Monday, October 27, 2008

The City that We (Care) Can't Forget

I got a homework assignment for you, my faithful readers: please watch "Inside New Orleans High" on The National Geographic Channel.

The documentary follows students and teachers at Cohen High School, a post-Katrina secondary school that seems to play host to an unusually large number of troubled kids. It would be easy to underestimate the extent of the problems at the school but, only moments into the doc, a student (a renowned local gangster) threatens to beat up a teacher.

During six months of filming, at least four Cohen students are victims of gun violence. About one in six girls at the school have children or are pregnant. Out of a senior class of 66, 32 students graduate and, of those, 15 go off to college. In particular, one of the students seems blissfully headed for a short life or a longer one behind bars.

Still, hope abounds despite the ubiquitous problems. One of the students, Cardwell Henderson, manages to win a basketball scholarship to a local community college despite an alcoholic parent and almost oppressive poverty. A first-year English teacher, Julie Murphy, pours her heart into kids that you imagine she never knew existed until a few months ago.

The city we see in "Inside" is much different from the one many of us see during our visits to the Big Easy. But we can't afford to be fooled: New Orleans is still a city in crisis. It would be easy to forget, considering the government's failures during Katrina and the problem-plagued recovery were never mentioned during any of the four presidential and vice-presidential debates.

And that's why the documentary is a must-watch. Because if we don't care, it's really hard to ask anyone else to.


Anonymous said...

Watched it tonight, good documentary, and very eye opening.

Congrats to Cardwell!

blackink said...

Yeah, I was definitely rooting for Cardwell. But, for the life of me, I have no clue what position he was playing.

With his build, he looked better suited for football. Either way, I'm just happy the kid moved on with his life.