What Am I Doing Here in the Deep South?

I was sent here on assignment to reach out to the unheard voices who have been impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But I’m a privileged middle-class woman from California.

How can I possibly relate to what these folks are dealing with down here? How can I possibly gain the trust of these folks who have gone through devastating tragedy after tragedy and still manage to soldier on?

What I know is this: I know what it’s like to be a child of hard-working parents who are struggling to pay the electric bill. I know what it’s like to grow up in a community that feels under-served. I know what it’s like to feel let down by those that govern our country. And I know what it’s like to love jazz music and good food.

After this first day of driving out of the touristy comfort of New Orleans, down through Belle Chase and Point Sulphur (to name a few) to Venice, Louisiana, I have learned that things are complicated. I have learned that what I can do is listen to these people who have been through so much devastation. Listen to these people who are not as concerned with the long-term environmental impact of drilling for oil as they are concerned with putting a meal on the table today and paying their bills next month. Right now, for a lot of these folks, BP is helping to pay these bills, not me.