Chocolate City Speech - Reaction

Reaction

The speech generated an intense reaction, much of it negative. The "Chocolate City" metaphor was seized on and parodied by commentators, and cartoons depicting Nagin as Willy Wonka appeared in print and on the internet. A Times-Picayune commentator suggested that Nagin had just ruined his own chances at re-election.

Political commentators point out that while this may just have been another example of Nagin speaking off the cuff, it will likely hurt his standing among white voters.

Many people believed the word uptown to be a coded reference to wealthy whites, such as those who live in the old mansions on St. Charles Avenue or around Audubon Park. However, Uptown New Orleans actually is one of the most ethnically and economically diverse sections of the Metro area. Many of Nagin's original supporters live Uptown. As Uptown contains the largest section of unflooded high ground in the city's East Bank, at the time of the speech Uptown had the city's largest concentration of locals back in their homes, businesses back open, and displaced New Orleanians from other more severely damaged parts of town living there. Locals protested the Mayor's comment which some felt suggested he did not care about an important section of his city.

Nagin later attempted to explain away his remarks by offering a more racially inclusive metaphor, saying "How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk and it becomes a delicious drink. That's the chocolate I'm talking about."

Nagin said that his remarks were meant to be a call for African Americans to once again return to New Orleans despite the supposed belief that many of the people Uptown did not want them back.

The Mayor apologized for the suggestion that people Uptown (a mixed neighborhood) were racist, noting the importance of that section of town in the city's recovery. He particularly stated regret for the statements about God. "I don't know what happened there," he said. "I don't know how that got jumbled up. That whole God thing, I don't know how that got mixed up in there." Nagin concluded "I need to be more aware and sensitive of what I'm saying... Anyone I've offended, I hope you forgive me."

In his speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, comedian Stephen Colbert playfully mocked Nagin by calling Washington D.C. the "chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a Graham cracker crust of corruption."

Read more about this topic:  Chocolate City Speech

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