Tonight’s documentary, Getting Back to Abnormal, dives into to the messy issues of race and politics in post-Katrina New Orleans. Our guests tonight–Producers/Directors Peter Odabashian, Paul Stekler and Andrew Kolker–tackle the subject by focusing on the pivotal 2010 city council race for District B. Incumbent Stacy Head, the first white Councilperson from District B in 31 years, was elected in 2006 and has faced charges of racism. Her opponent, Corey Watson is an African-American preacher and the son of a powerful pastor who has no problem telling his congregants that there is no separation between church and state because God owns them both.
Adding into the mix the is the destruction of public housing in St Bernard’s and the building of new housing development for mixed income residents–a development with regulations regarding employment of residents and which ban visitors with arrest records. Stacy Head voted in support of the development as part of her stated goal to see New Orleans move itself out of a poverty mentality to become a strong and self-supporting city.
Head is blunt and often puts her foot in her mouth when it comes to discussing issues of race and poverty–but her back is covered and her campaign is moved forward by her black political adviser Barbara Lacen-Keller who is a force to be reckoned with.
Mardi Gras, the Saints football game, a celebration commemorating elementary school desegregation, street festivals, and the efforts of St. Bernard’s residents to get noticed by President Obama during a visit form a rich background to the election campaign.
The documentary is enhanced by provocative commentary from New Orleans cultural figures like Treme creator David Simon, ex-councilperson Oliver Thomas, historian Raphael Cassimere, radio hosts Paul Beaulieu and John Slade, and attorney Buddy Lemann. Getting Back to Abnormal reveals the peculiar side of New Orleans politics–a microcosm of American’s political and race issues, and is one of the best documentaries about New Orleans, and about America. It airs July 14 on KCET’s POV.