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January 17, 2006

Chocolate City

I don't really have a problem with what Ray Nagin said yesterday about New Orleans as a chocolate city. (I'm certainly no fan of Mayor Nagin, and I can't defend the other stuff he said. I think there should be a moratorium on public figures talking about why God does stuff. It always results in the speaker apologizing within a week, so why bother.)

A lot of people sound shocked at the words "chocolate city," but it's an old school phrase that I was first introduced to back when I worked as a temp in downtown Oakland. We used to bring in CDs to listen to while we shuffled paper. A friend of mine brought in the Parliament CD, which featured this title song:

Uh, what's happening CC?
They still call it the White House
But that's a temporary condition, too.
Can you dig it, CC?

To each his reach
And if I don't cop, it ain't mine to have
But I'll be reachin' for ya
'Cause I love ya, CC.
Right on.

There's a lot of chocolate cities, around
We've got Newark, we've got Gary
Somebody told me we got L.A.
And we're working on Atlanta
But you're the capital, CC

Gainin' on ya!
Get down
Gainin' on ya!
Movin' in and on ya
Gainin' on ya!
Can't you feel my breath, heh
Gainin' on ya!
All up around your neck, heh heh

Hey, CC!
They say your jivin' game, it can't be changed
But on the positive side,
You're my piece of the rock
And I love you, CC.
Can you dig it?

Hey, uh, we didn't get our forty acres and a mule
But we did get you, CC, heh, yeah
Gainin' on ya
Movin' in and around ya
God bless CC and its vanilla suburbs

Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya! (heh!)
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
What's happening, blood?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!

What's happening, black?
Brother black, blood even
Yeah-ahh, just funnin'

Gettin' down

Ah, blood to blood
Ah, players to ladies
The last percentage count was eighty
You don't need the bullet when you got the ballot
Are you up for the downstroke, CC?
Chocolate city
Are you with me out there?

And when they come to march on ya
Tell 'em to make sure they got their James Brown pass
And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House
Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure
Richard Pryor, Minister of Education
Stevie Wonder, Secretary of FINE arts
And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady
Are you out there, CC?
A chocolate city is no dream
It's my piece of the rock and I dig you, CC
God bless Chocolate City and its (gainin' on ya!) vanilla suburbs
Can y'all get to that?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Easin' in
Gainin' on ya!
In yo' stuff
Gainin' on ya!
Huh, can't get enough
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Be mo' funk, be mo' funk
Gainin' on ya!
Can we funk you too
Gainin' on ya!
Right on, chocolate city!

Yeah, get deep
Real deep
Be mo' funk
Mmmph, heh
Get deep
Unh, heh
Just got New York, I'm told

It's a cool song, and the sentiment is about pride, not racism. I think there is real concern that the new New Orleans will become some kind of sanitized N.O. themed resort. I'd hate to see it become a city-sized Pleasure Island or Universal Citywalk. Mayor Nagin was just using a colloquial reference that his audience understood to assure them that New Orleans was going to stay real.

Posted by annika, Jan. 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


Well, you are giving him plenty of credit which he might not deserve. But rest assured New Orleans will never be a theme park. It is and always will be a working city.
But I sure hope it never becomes just what it was before Katrina. At any rate, I have Parliment's Greatest hits CD, its pretty cool.

Posted by: Kyle N on Jan. 17, 2006

Kyle, you weirdo, have you looked for your spaceman in Ray Nagin's body?

Posted by: shelly on Jan. 17, 2006

I bet we lived in Oakland at the same time. How much you wanna bet? ...that is a nice song, I just went and downloaded for free! I'm a teef!

Posted by: Scof on Jan. 17, 2006

Glad to hear the comment didn't bother you.......one of the great things about being a conservative is the ability to accept a certain level of tribal pride without getting caught up silly racist conspiracies. Be proud of your culture---just don't put it ahead of your country and don't try to shove it down others' throats.

Posted by: Blu on Jan. 17, 2006

I don't mind what Nagin said - but I am tired of his never-ending efforts to lure blacks back to N.O. - and that's literally what he's been doing for many weeks - making specific appeals for BLACKS to return to N.O. Now, THAT is injecting race where race doesn't belong, and I think Nagin deserves criticism for it. His appeal is another instance of a Democrat playing the race card in an attempt to maintain political power. Race has no place in that conversation.

Louisiana has been dominated by corrupt Democratic politics since before Huey Long, but the domination has been slowly, slowly receding over the last 20 years, with races becoming very close over the last election cycles. Without New Orleans' heavily Democratic vote, the state will go Republican: governor, Senators, almost everything. The Cajuns will still be Democrats - but the rest of the state is small town apple pie Republican. Shreveport may as well be in Texas - it will go heavily Republican also.

I think Nagin is a decent guy who did a horrible job during the Hurricane, and is making blatant partisan appeals now. I give him some benefit of doubt about his "chocolate" remark. Maybe he was talking about your song. I agree that conservatives shouldn't be shouting down issue discussion by hollering racism - even if the media double standard does drive us crazy.

Posted by: gcotharn on Jan. 17, 2006

Ain't nuthin' wrong with chocolate. 'Specially on toppa vanilla.


Posted by: Kevin Kim on Jan. 18, 2006

I agree that we are getting WAY too politically correct in everything someone says. But, what if he were white and said he wanted his city to be a white city?

Posted by: ed on Jan. 18, 2006

Good point, Ed. I think that the comment you mentioned would not be tolerated on Left period. Furthermore, it would be denounced by many on the Right for political reasons. But most people familiar to this site understand the hypocrisy and double-standards on the Left and on some parts of the Right. So, on this particular point, conservatives can choose not to get caught up in the PC lunacy.

Posted by: Blu on Jan. 18, 2006

new orleans was 80 pct black before katrina and probably will be more so afterward.

It was choclate before and probably will stay that way.

Posted by: cube on Jan. 18, 2006

Hello Ed.

If he were white and said He wanted it to be a white city he would justly be castigated and labeled a racist.

I don't think he said he wanted it to be a Black city. He wants's it to be a city similar to what it was before, hopefully with less poverty, less crime, better policing and a semblance of the diversity it had before. Not Dixie Disney.

Historically when whites have said they wanted a white chocolate city they meant to the exclusion of blacks. To conclude that Nagin's statement is the equivalent is more about the way you think not Nagin.

When Mayor Nagin implores blacks to retun to their city, to keep it "chocolate" I doubt anyone, other than you, hears him telling whites to stay out. He is hoping that the city will continue to be a culturally diverse haven for art and music and not become a walking city were tourists come hoping to glimse vestiges of the past.

Posted by: Strawman on Jan. 18, 2006

Put me down for a double cone - pistachio, please.

Posted by: Shelly on Jan. 18, 2006


I hate to admit it, but I think you are correct about the Mayor's intent. He is well aware that New Orleans needs the return of tourism and there is no way (unless he is just a total idiot and a racist)that he is going to intentionally try to alienate whites. I, personally, love New Orleans and hope it comes back strong and like it was. (Ok, perhaps with less crime and a little cleaner.)

I, however, part ways with you on the issue of who wants to exclude who. The most exclusionary and racist statements I hear now, today, 21st century come from Blacks and other minorities. It's time for folks to stop living in the past. The average white person does not feel comfortable making racist comments. Blacks and other minorities are free to make racial critiques of whites without any fear of social ostracism thanks to a culture that excuses or ignores nearly all racism directed towards whites (or Christians.)

That's the reality of the 21st century. So, let's stop pretending it's the 1960's.

Posted by: Blu on Jan. 18, 2006

p.s. I realize that one can't be "racist" in regard to a person's religion. I meant that nearly any form a bigotry is excused if it is directed towards people of European heritage or to Christians----especially evangelicals and Catholics.

Posted by: Blu on Jan. 18, 2006

An all white New Orleans? Anybody kidding?

Who the Hell would go there to see Mardi Gras? C'mon guys, white guys just ain't got rhythm or blues.

Nagin is just a nincompoop. Although his official bio claims that Mayor Nagin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting at Tuskegee University in 1978 and received a Masters of Business Administration at Tulane University in 1994, he sure doesn't act like it.

The man won in an upset victory; he's just in over his head, that's all. Outside of my being pissed at him because he tried to evade the blame for the school busses and other poor decisions and lay it off on Bush, I'm inclined to cut him a little slack here while he tries to get Big Easy back on its feet.

Posted by: shelly on Jan. 19, 2006

'Poetry Wednesday' has been replaced by 'Song-Lyric Tuesday'

Posted by: Victor on Jan. 19, 2006


Imagine ANY white mayor in America expressing the desire that his/her city turn or remain all "vanilla."

That mayor would be out of a job within 24 hours.

Imagine some white band singing:

"God bless Vanilla City and its (gainin' on ya!) chocolate suburbs"

The NAACP would have a collective stroke.

Then you write:

"Mayor Nagin was just using a colloquial reference that his audience understood to assure them that New Orleans was going to stay real."

Oh? "Real"? That New Orleans might become mainly white must therefore makes it less "real." It makes it "fake"? Again, a white mayor asserts that his city stay "real" by remaining all white: He'd be tarred and feathered.

You're supporting a double standard.

Posted by: Mark on Jan. 20, 2006

The Parliament song is about pride, but Nagin's comments were nothing more than race baiting. Pure and simple. Typical New Orleans politics, but with a lot less charisma. The man is trying to hold on to his office at all costs. NOLA would be better off without him. Sadly, he'll probably parlay the death and destruction, of which he owns a large portion of the blame, into another term. He'll do it by more race baiting, as well.

I grew up about an hour away from NOLA. Having many, many friends and family from New Orleans and Louisiana (a number of whom lost everything), I have come to know a good bit about it. The level of corruption in New Orleans is comparable to some Third World countries.

Posted by: ccs178 (Chris) on Jan. 21, 2006