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Reader Reactions: This is Lafayette

Yes, it was a loaded question. “Is this Lafayette?” Well what do you mean by “this?” We got a big response to the question. Exactly 100 folks weighed in, and the overwhelming view is yes, this is Lafayette. 

And by this, most meant a community in the throes of division. That theme ran in responses from all points of view. (The featured comments here have been edited for brevity.)

“Not a single person wants to change their opinion on any topic. There really is not a middle road. … Be with us or get out. I am actually preferring the latter.” 

Leigh Page

“There are people doing amazing, growth and empathy driven work here, but it’s hard to call things better when the overall divisiveness of the country is evident here as people dig their heels in and every issue is us vs. them.”

Brandi Comeaux

We heard feelings of exclusion common to natives and transplants alike. Many said racism and bigotry has stewed here unacknowledged for generations and it’s only now getting the scrutiny it deserves. Others called it cliquishness. And some said the city never had a problem with racism and still doesn’t. 

“Lafayette has shown its true colors through all of this. It’s about time someone calls it what it is. A political, racist, hypocritical nightmare that doesn’t even worry about the safety of its own citizens.”

Brandy LeJeune

“There ain’t enough boudin & daiquiris to numb it back to the far corners of our minds. Some of us have seen what is possible. Good creative people will leave. Some may stay to fight for a more equitable Lafayette. It doesn’t have to be bloody but it will be war.” 

Melanie Bonnet

Understandably, many took this as a question about masks — the prompt was a story weighing the impact of national headlines about Lafayette’s failed mask mandate. And in that episode most readers who responded said they saw a community plagued with selfishness, unable to rise above petty political differences. Some reported despair that a kind and loving Lafayette had lost its way. Others said the city’s dark nature was revealed. Even those who rejected the very premise of the question and defended Lafayette in the face of what they regard as unfair scrutiny saw divisiveness brewing.

“I can understand people leaving for economic reasons, but come on, people talking about leaving because of ‘fascist’ or simply poor leadership is a little much. There will be future mayors and council members, none of which will be perfect, either. In the meantime, cook a gumbo, dance a Zydeco and be happy.” 

Adrian Ortlieb

“We are a spiritual people whose festivals bring us together. But if we aren’t careful we will become just like every other city in the country, like that newscaster tried to make us out to be. We are not that! I feel like the media is tearing us apart.”  

Jenny Thompson

“You cannot destroy the heart and soul of a great city and disparage its people with divisive politics, bad press or Covid. They are resilient, intelligent and resourceful. The world could learn much from the Cajun ways.”

Remie Wolf

Overwhelmingly, respondents said recent press accurately reflected Lafayette and that our community is getting worse. But this isn’t a scientific survey. It’s a conversation among readers. And no doubt there’s a selection bias in who responded and what they had to say. That’s important to keep in mind. 

“Whether or not it is as we would like it, this is Lafayette. The conclusions of our city council, the decisions of our Mayor-President… we have no one but ourselves to blame.”

Jonathan Moore

But what’s loud and clear is many of you believe Lafayette is tearing itself apart, even if you can’t agree on who’s causing it: Donald Trump, John Bel Edwards, Josh Guillory, liberal elites, systemic racism, the media, political insiders, human nature. 

“It’s gotten better but the pushback against that has become worse. But that seems to be the way it goes.” 

Diane Kirksey

Maybe the next question should be, “If Lafayette is indeed a divided place. What are we going to do about it?” 

Hit up [email protected] with your thoughts — any time.