Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six is a firsthand account of culture and social justice in New Orleans. The book weaves together the stories of gay rappers, Mardi Gras Indians, Arab and Latino immigrants, public housing residents, and grassroots activists in the years before and after Katrina. From post-Katrina evacuee camps to torture testimony at Angola Prison to organizing with the family members of the Jena Six, Floodlines tells the stories behind the headlines from an unforgettable time and place in history.
Praise for Floodlines
As the floodwaters rose in New Orleans, Jordan Flaherty began to write, rescuing precious truths about the reality of racism and solidarity in his city that risked being washed away in the tide of formulaic corporate journalism. I can think of no journalist that writes with deeper knowledge or more love about this highly contested part of the United States. These remarkable stories of injustice and resistance must be heard.– Naomi Klein, author, The Shock Doctrine
Floodlines manages to chronicle the multiple system failures after the storm yet uplift by passionately detailing the spirit and history of organizing by grassroots New Orleanians.– Mab Segrest, author, Memoir of a Race Traitor
This is the most important book I’ve read about Katrina and what came after. In the tradition of Howard Zinn this could be called “The People’s History of the Storm.” Jordan Flaherty was there on the front lines. He compellingly documents the racism, poverty, and neglect at the core of this national failure and the brave, generous, grassroots revolutionaries who saved and continue to save a city and a people. It is my favorite kind of book – great storytelling, accurate accounting, a call for engagement and change.-Eve Ensler, playwright, The Vagina Monologues, activist and founder of V-Day
Here’s the missing news from the Crescent City: folks are fighting back. Indeed, as Flaherty reminds us in this remarkable and noble book, the very soul of New Orleans is struggle. As southern Louisiana again faces a man-made catastrophe, his portraits of activism and hope could not be more timely.-Mike Davis, author, Planet of Slums
Jordan Flaherty is a journalist who causes revolution with the printed word. This book is a testament to the power of the pen when its in the hand of a freedom fighter and a global thinker. While others are just writing these stories, Jordan Flaherty is living them.– Jesse Muhammad, Final Call Newspaper
Jordan Flaherty’s first calling is as a dedicated community organizer, but he’s also a top-rate investigative journalist. The oppressed communities of New Orleans and larger Louisiana are fortunate to have this talented and compassionate reporter in their midst. This book is invaluable to the United States’ social justice movement that relies on his expertise, honesty, and truth.
-Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War
Since Hurricane Katrina hit, Jordan Flaherty has—with spectacular dedication—chronicled New Orleans’s political changes with care and passion. His stories are the ones we all want to read: the tireless work of organizers in the city, the obstacles they face and the triumphs they celebrate….which ultimately inspire all of us.
-Daisy Hernández, Executive Editor, ColorLines, the newsmagazine on race and politics.
Jordan Flaherty’s work has been indispensable for social justice activists and organizations around the country who care about the inequities and social injustices that Hurricane Katrina revealed and exacerbated. He brings the sharp analysis and dedication of a seasoned organizer to his writing, and insightful observation to his reporting. Jordan unfailingly has his ear to the ground in a city that continues to reveal the floodlines of structural racism in America.
– Tram Nguyen, author, We Are All Suspects Now: Untold Stories from Immigrant Communities after 9/11
After the flood, many of us turned to Jordan Flaherty’s dispatches for real-time real talk about what was really going on in his beloved New Orleans. His from-the-low-ground accounts of how the politics of abandonment, the politics of containment, and racism combined to devastate this proud global city were brave and unsettling. His passionate, unsparing writing on the community organizers and the people struggling to make themselves and their city whole reminded us of the stakes. At this crucial point in American history,Floodlines captures the urgency of New Orleans and reveals why its recovery and renewal is one of the most important battles for justice in our time.
—Jeff Chang, author, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History Of The Hip-Hop Generation
Want to know what really happened to regular people during and after Katrina? Read this book and get the real stories. Read this book and get angry. Read this book and get busy making changes.”
-Bill Quigley, Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
Jordan describes reality from the ground up. You’ve heard of the eagle’s eye view: this is the earthworm’s. Jordan knows who actually turns over the earth, and he follows them, even when most look away. His book brings us the good news of who’s working for change (and how) but also the reality about the price those people pay for our indifference.
-Laura Flanders, Host, Grit TV, author, Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians
The usual Katrina narrative tracks government incompetence during the emergency phase and and corporate greed — or inertia — in its aftermath. Jordan Flaherty tells a less well known story, centered on the boisterous infrastructure of left-leaning community groups and non-profits that were fired up by disaster and still struggle to shape New Orleans’ recovery. Flaherty is part of that movement. His vantage brings hands-on intimacy to this chronicle and poignancy to his conclusions.
-Jed Horne, author, Breach of Faith, Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City
Jordan Flaherty is an independent journalist for the Hip-Hop generation. As a white anti-imperialist who is committed to social and racial justice, Jordan brings out the voices of the victims and survivors of Hurricane Katrina and the levee breach in New Orleans. This book not only speaks truth to power but is a rallying cry for all of us to take action. With this definitive work, the voices of the grassroots, the communities resisting displacement, finally have a voice.
– Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party VP Candidate, Hip Hop Activist and Journalist
Jordan Flaherty is one of the best and most courageous writers in America today. Beyond his obvious writing skills, what I admire most about Jordan is his dedication to truth-telling, to bringing the real and whole America to the American people. At a time in our nation when there is so much distortion of current events and history, Jordan Flaherty represents the core of who we truly are. And what we are capable of being as citizens of this ever-changing world.
-Kevin Powell, author, Open Letters to America
Reviews of Floodlines
Floodlines opens with a history of New Orleans and closes with a quietly hopeful call to action. In between is a narrative of love, loss, anger, despair, indifference, murder and music…Floodlines is an electric piece of journalism. Not only does Flaherty tell a story that needs to be told, he does it with a style that reads like the best of reportage. There is lots of detail, yet it is never tedious. The writing here is reminiscent of two of the United States’ best journalists–Lincoln Steffens and I.F. Stone. Like the city Flaherty loves so much, this book has soul.
An invaluable addition to the history of racial justice work.
Floodlines reveals how events we see unfolding in the news are part of a complex history of Black cultures of resistance dating all the way back to the beginnings of slavery in the south. Outsiders and insiders alike will benefit from Flaherty’s uniquely personal and unabashedly political account of some of the most important untold stories of our time.
-Prison Legal News
While reading Floodlines, I was forced to confront how my understanding of New Orleans has been shaped by mainstream media reports that focused obsessively on individual acts of violence while ignoring the large-scale state violence imposed on mostly poor communities of color. I was moved by how Flaherty, a white journalist and organizer based in New Orleans, manages to tell a story that encompasses both the staggering injustice of structural racism and the inspiring grassroots activism of New Orleanians.
Jordan Flaherty plays a crucial role in documenting and contexualizing this potential power source for our movements. What we have witnessed in New Orleans needs to deeply inform our work as community-accountable organizers for justice everywhere.
An eye-opening examination on the hope, struggles and conflicts that revolve around community-led movements for social justice.
There is hope in Floodlines, as we read the stories of people who are willing to fight the status quo, of the resistors and activists that envision a brighter future for New Orleans, a city rich in history and contrasts.
Indispensable to the historical record of a disaster and recovery effort that has become a devastating primer in American racism.
Flaherty is not another author looking to make sense of what went wrong. He’s here to declare the inconvenient truth that what went wrong didn’t make sense — and wasn’t making sense long before Katrina.
Not content to critique oppressive institutions and policies, Flaherty weaves a narrative of resistance and hope throughout the book
-Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service-Learning, and Community Literacy
Faculty Praise of Floodlines
An absolutely compelling and essential book for anyone interested in contemporary politics of resistance, and an excellent addition to any syllabus in American studies, gender and sexuality studies, sociology, political science, or ethnic studies.
– Kate Drabinski, Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Tulane University, New Orleans
Floodlines takes students to the heart of struggle, and emphasizes culture, community, resistance and resilience as the core of a city and its people. At the same time, Jordan Flaherty does not allow readers to distance the violence, racism, inequality and oppression highlighted in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the trial of the Jena Six as something that happens “over there.” Instead, he identifies them as specific manifestations of the way in which global capitalist imperialism reinforces hierarchies of race, class, gender, sexuality and nation – and invites readers to examine how this is happening in their own communities also. In the process, he outlines a practice of solidarity that connects communities of resistance and opens a path forward for us all. Floodlines enrages and inspires. It moved my students to understand and to act. For that, it is more than an invaluable teaching tool: it is a gift.
– Sujani Reddy, Professor, American Studies, Amherst College
Jordan Flaherty has done what no academic, journalist, archivist, or artist has done so thoroughly or interdisciplinarily in the five years since Hurricane Katrina: he has linked the vibrant history of New Orleans to the ongoing post-Katrina present and taken it right into a future, which, despite the odds, he reveals to pulse with possibility. Floodlines is an extremely accessible text and reads like a story; I recommend it to anyone interested in social movements, culture, community, race, disaster, or anything at all having to do with U.S. politics in the twenty first century.
– Rachel E. Luft, Professor of Sociology, University of New Orleans