March 7, 2017
Ethnography of Uptown New Orleans Youth
“But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.” - Rocky Balboa
Living in New Orleans has revealed so many varieties of people and their relationships. My hometown of Dallas, Texas, is big, but the area of Dallas my family has lived in for decades does not have the cornucopia of people like New Orleans. This quirky city is small, and has small socioeconomic zones, which allows for a great variety of people to find a home and stay in the city. The streets are smaller, real estate is smaller, and there are many historic structures that make the layout of the city abnormal. Many zones of the city have remained physically, though the culture that built them has not be passed on. This is what I imagine happened to the historic houses in uptown New Orleans. It appears the houses were built as large family residences. They are now split into leases, but kept the historic appearance. This residential area is an interesting contrast to the youth that has moved into the area. Growth after Hurricane Katrina had a direct impact on the universities. I think many young people saw the archaic sunken city as an opportunity for their own growth and many have gathered around the universities. The group of people I chose as subject of my writing is what I consider the young adult minorities of uptown New Orleans and the event is weekend boxing.
I had been aware of these gatherings since my fall semester, and had once attended about six months ago. At first, I did not think it was strange compared to some of my peers who know about it. I had played sports in school in similar situations to the fights. I also play sports at my friends’ houses, so having the boxing in someone's house seemed reasonable. This setting is where I think my peers saw a problem with the fights. Mixed races of people in a basement maybe with blood on the ground is off putting, but I rationalized it with the fact that these shared leases are all they have. Most of these 18-25 year old citizens are paying rent, that is not on the cheapest to live in a safer and nice part of New Orleans, and are students, often with debt.
The History of the fights is unclear. The events at the house I went to had been going on for about two years. Before the people I met lived in that house, I imagine similar boxing clubs had been around the city. Due to a history of slavery and natural disasters, New Orleans also has a history of poverty and homelessness. Murder rates have been exceptionally high since Hurricane Katrina, but throughout 2016 opioid overdoses in New Orleans are on track to catch up it’s murder rates. Not just the victims, but the whole city feels the effects. It's important for this need for violence to be controlled. These young men train and sacrifice their money and free time to make the weekend box...