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We are New Orleans

I love my city and I try my best to represent it well and share the story of the heart and soul of  New Orleans. My life, as well as the lives of many more New Orleanians, especially our ancestors,  tells a story of suffering, survival, and sacrifice in a city we love so much. It was hard for us to see life beyond the bricks as we worked for pennies in the million-dollar tourism industry and on riverboats. We managed by working overtime, creating a side hustle and took on a second and third job while leaning on our faith in God and our neighbors to look after our family in our absence. Working mothers were oftentimes forced to leave their own children home alone to care for a wealthy white woman’s children in order to put food on the table. This great sacrifice enabled many to buy their own homes and open businesses in their communities which is why we stay. After overcoming hardship, suffering, loss, and segregation there are some that stay to share the legacy, tell the story of how we got over and ultimately continue to apply pressure and fight for a city that technically belongs to us.

I desire to be a vessel to tell these stories of my people who through blood, sweat and tears built New Orleans and are the biggest contributors to the rich culture. I will use my platform to show you how we are being manipulated and live in fear by as we are forced out of communities that our ancestors nurtured in order to make room for wealthy transplants and AirBnB’s. I understand that gentrification is happening all over the country, but what’s happening in New Orleans is a form of genocide. the culture and traditions of New Orleans continue to survive because of people of color living in urban communities. The African American population was once the majority, and now we are being pushed out at a steady rate, only to be replaced by those who fail to understand the culture and even worse how to be a neighbor.

I find it amusing that those who supported and encouraged segregation in the suburbs and other parishes now want to swap places. The same people who avoided Treme, St. Roch, the 9th Ward and etc before Katrina are paying big bucks to move into our communities. Not so long ago black people were routinely beaten by Jefferson Parish Police just for driving past the city line, now we are greeted with open arms. I would say it’s a good thing, but it’s only a front as we are sent out of New Orleans.

We need to stand up lay claim on our city ask for reparations and back wages due to our African and Native Indian ancestors who worked as slaves for the city after slavery was over. We need to be given back our land and homes that were taken away with the use of slick tactics by the government after Katrina. We deserve to reap the harvest of the tourism industry as well.  Generation after generation paved the way, literally paved the very cobblestone streets and sidewalks that lead to New Orleans being named as the #1 travel destination and is one of few cities known by people all over the world.  We have always been the cultural and hospitality Ambassadors of New Orleans, and we get no credit. It’s sad that the Mardi Gras Indians whose suits are photographed by people from all over the world and displayed in museums haven’t been justly compensated for their contribution to the cultural. In addition to that, the story of how the Mardi Gras Indians became a part of Mardi Gras is absent from the history books. Sadly, that’s the case with all things Black History here in America. But I made reference to the Mardi ras Indians to make a point on how black people contributed to the culture and aren’t compensated or acknowledged let’s say in comparison to the King and Queen of Rex.

My goal is to share New Orleans, through my eyes and soul. I actually moved back home, after feeling a deep desire within me to be there. It was as if the soul New Orleans found her way to Minnesota to take me home. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I felt nervous about giving up the nice life I made for myself, but comfort and peace trumped financial security at that time. But as if she sensed my worry the soul of New Orleans told gave me a scripture, Deuteronomy 26:15 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 Look down from Your holy [a]habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’ The soul of New Orleans promised I would be ok and that I would survive until it was Harvest Time. When I arrived she pulled me into her bosom, wrapping me up in all of her love. Her heartbeat was a familiar comfort that I longed for and needed. I cried and cried, and she encouraged me to cry more. telling me that a good cry was good for my soul as teardrops moistened to dry soil beneath my feet which held the seeds of my hopes and dreams of long ago. I felt a soft breeze brush across my face as if removing any trace of hurt from off my face as it whispered “You are home. Momo is here, but only in the physical. Your Daddy and Mel are gone on over so what are you do you think you should do now that the very people asked you to come back over the years are gone?

It takes for my landlord and neighbors to describe what I looked like as I pulled up weeds from a small 6×2 area of what was all weeds with my bare hands. As I pulled and dug my hands in the hard dry New Orleans dirt I felt as if I was pulling up my dreams and goals I left unattended for the weeds to destroy. This only gave me more strength to pull up weeds with roots so long and thick so that I could make room to plant new seeds if need be. I was unearthing my life, sweet memories and the stories family members had told me over the years and it felt amazing. My life had meaning again and I felt renewed.

As I continue to dig up my NOLA memories, dreams and stories my hope is that you will accompany me on my journey of recovery of all that was lost, stolen and denied.

I am New Orleans and she lives within my soul and beat of my heart. So, if you would please jump on my bandwagon and let me show and tell you the story of not only my NOLA but the story of others as well. In sharing with you I hope that we can find ways to preserve our culture, traditions, and legacies because we are New Orleans.

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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