NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans City Council member is apologizing for describing a preference among residents of part of her predominantly Black district for “greasy fried chicken” restaurants, comments she made while discussing the district’s slow business recovery 15 years after Hurricane Katrina.
The Times-Picayune ‘ New Orleans Advocate reports Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen said her comments about constituents in the Lower 9th Ward in an earlier story in the newspaper were taken out of context.
“In the context they were presented, my example of residents enjoying fried chicken and its abundance in the area came off as insensitive, and for that, I apologize,” she said in a statement Sunday to area residents.
Nguyen’s apology came shortly after state Rep. Jason Hughes, a New Orleans Democrat whose district overlaps with Nguyen’s, wrote in an open letter on Sunday that he was “shocked, appalled, and insulted” at Nguyen’s words.
Nguyen, who was elected in 2017, represents the overwhelmingly Black district. She is the first council member from her eastern New Orleans district since 1985 who is not Black.
The comments came during a driving tour of the district. Nguyen was responding to a question about what kind of commerce the neighborhood can realistically support, given its shrunken population since Katrina.
“I’ll be candid — having Wal-Mart come to the neighborhood, it ain’t gonna happen,” she said in the interview. She added that other concepts, including a popular fast food restaurant call Raising Cane’s, also were unlikely.
She went on: “This is just a reality, OK, and this is not putting anybody down: I think people in the Lower Nine like those greasy fried chicken” places, Nguyen said.
“I don’t like to have conversations just to sugarcoat people and say, ‘Yeah, we can get a Raising Cane’s,’ when you know very well that people here like those chicken, those fried chicken … You can’t ask people to start up a business and not be able to make money.”