House The Unhoused: Next Wave Civil Rights, NOLA

Op-ed on Black Leadership and White Activism

The Next Wave Civil Rights Movement


This is what we do. Every Saturday Construction Day, we, The Greater New Orleans Citizens Relief Team (GNOCRT), break for lunch around noon and stand in a circle to discuss our construction goals, issues around Black and Brown leadership, and how our work contributes to the destruction of white supremacy in theory and practice.


New Orleans is known globally for its music, food, and culture, while home to the poorest, least educated, most houseless, most imprisoned and  longest-sentenced Black and Brown people of any city in the United States. The large majority of 501c3 nonprofit organizations in New Orleans that receive federal, state and private grant money to help impoverished Black and Brown people are largely led by white executive directors and administrations. How must we,  Black and Brown people, change this reality? We are asking for help!


Photographer,  Michael Alford


First, we, GNOCRT, demand that all organizations receiving federal and state funding to serve the Black and Brown community must be led by Black and Brown people.


When we, GNOCRT, began our direct action of working with the houseless to renovate  dilapidated property that was owned by the city, we were grateful to have 10 to 15 white volunteers, on average, helping us with construction every Saturday. We received a lot of support from the white activist community. However, soon after we announced that we are a  Black-led organization, every single white volunteer stopped coming to construction days without notice or explanation. Why did they not want to help this cause if Black-led? We are seeking answers. 


When thinking of white supremacy as an active concept we must understand that Black and Brown people can also practice white supremacist behaviour. As we, Black and Brown people, begin to adopt white supremacist ways, believing white people can do better than we can, we believe in white supremacy. When we believe “white is right” and end up feeling inferior to white people, we think as white supremacists.  When we blame the oppressed instead of the oppressor, we too can act as white supremacists. What is the way forward?


Photographer,  Michael Alford


Secondly, we demand that foundations who fund organizations in New Orleans to help Black and Brown people to fight against poverty, joblessness, imprisonment, and houselesness, cease funding white-led organizations and fund only Black and Brown-led organizations.


As Black and Brown organizers we see white activists and organizations distribute food and clothes to the poor and houseless. However, we do not see white activists and organizations sharing their gifts, skills and talents and resources to help poor people make long term life changes by ascending into leadership roles in these areas. Black and Brown people are in danger, and therefore we write this letter to the city administration, and all New Orleans-based foundations and white activists, to garner their support  for Black and Brown-led organizations. 


We are willing to meet with any and all to help you make the following immediate change: 


To ensure that funds made available to help eliminate poverty and suffering of Black and Brown people be given to Black and Brown led organizations. 


Please contact us immediately if you wish to discuss this further! 



Give Power To The People,

The Greater New Orleans Citizens Relief Team

[email redacted]

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The Greater New Orleans Citizens Relief Team 
New Orleans, LA