New Orleans City Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen apologized Sunday for comments she said were taken out of context, WWL TV reports.
The comments in question were published Saturday in a newspaper article reflecting on the Lower Ninth Ward’s recovery in the 15 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.
Nguyen offers a candid comment about the challenges of bringing businesses to Lower Ninth Ward when locals would prefer “greasy fried chicken (places).”
Nguyen was responding to a question about how many businesses can the neighborhood support, especially since its population declined after Katrina.
“I’ll be candid — having Wal-Mart come to the neighborhood, it ain’t gonna happen. The concept of even like a Raising Cane’s, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Nguyen said.
“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 added.
“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.”
The newspaper reports state representative Jason Hughes, whose district includes part of Nguyen’s city council district, wrote an open letter Sunday saying he was “shocked, appalled, and insulted” by Nguyen’s comments.
One day after the comments were published, Nguyen apologized in a Facebook Live update, saying that the comments came off as insensitive and were taken out of context.
The newspaper reports that Nguyen wrote to neighbors on Sunday saying that she was trying to describe the Lower 9th Ward as a food desert “with the lack of access to healthy food alternatives due to the saturation of convenience stores and gas stations with unhealthy food options.”
“I recognize the pain, and my deepest apology. But please don’t judge me on words that were used out of context. That is not the intent. The whole conversation was about what the Lower Nine used to have, what we have now and how we bring other options to the area,” Nguyen said.