The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Kartrina's flooding of New Orleans is this month's dominant trope for American magazines with a liberal/left persuasion. Pieces in Esquire, the Nation and the New Yorker predictably explore race, poverty, education and so on.
Breaking from the cliched themes, mostly rehashed by outsiders, writer Sarah M. Broom in the New Yorker gives the welcome viewpoint of a New Orleans native whose childhood home was destroyed in the disaster's aftermath. Broom's personal narrative about her family's ties and struggles is a dramatic and moving story that represent in microcosm the entire city's travails. While focused on New Orleans, her account also encompasses areas outside of the city affected by the storm, such as a community in Mississippi. Broom's article is an excerpt from a forthcoming book.
Articles by Malcolm Gladwell and Jelani Cobb, photos by Alex Soth and a comic-strip narrative by Ronald Wimberly bring different perspectives on the city's recovery. Gladwell finds that the disaster proved beneficial to many of those who left New Orleans, enabling them to leave behind poverty-plagued neighborhoods that reinforced self-destructive behavior including crime. Soth and Wimberly show how the influx of idealistic young millennials and wealthy celebrities is bringing a wave of gentrification unwelcome to New Orleans natives. Wimberly in his drawings and narrative captures local characters upset by trendy coffee houses and rising rents.
The same conflicts are dividing San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston and other cities. Katrina altered New Orleans in significant ways, making it a bit whiter and more middle class, and less distinctive.