Where are you from? Louisiana?! Is that in Africa?


Recently I have become totally obsessed with a wonderful HBO show called Treme.  Ironically, I realized while watching this show last night that the reason why I feel so connected to the characters (I mean besides the great writing, acting and AMAZING Music featured in most episodes during season 1) is because of what they remind me of.  They remind me of everything that I never realized I loved about Louisiana.  For most African-Americans, there is some state in the south that serves as a place where we are from.  It serves as a resting place in our mind, body and spirit that embodies us culturally and speaks in some way to who we are.  It’s funny that all of these thoughts came to me while taking in a cultural experience that paralleled my own life.

The scene is a house in the Treme neighborhood.  A group of Mardi Gras Indians are celebrating the life of a member of their group that passed away during the floods after Hurricane Katrina.  As they celebrate the life of their member, a bus pulls up that says “Katrina Tours” on the front.  A man rolls down the window and asks them what they are doing.  As they turn around, they encourage them to move on.  This is where I became transported back in time to my last trip to New Orleans.  I took this trip sometime last year and recognized that this was my first trip to New Orleans after “The Hurricane” but also as an adult.

This trip was symbolic for many reasons but also made me think of the days that I had travelled to Louisiana as a child to meet and great the extended people who made up the Dotson, Johnson, Nervis and Newman family.  This short scene brought me back to the trip that I took and the environmental justice tour that we went on in the lower (9th ward).  This was a reminder of the place where my father’s father and mother’s mother came from not so long ago as the moved west through the black migration.  This scene transported me with a question that I often hear when people want to know about my place of origin.

person: where are you from?

me: Louisiana

person: Louisiana?

me: yeah, Louisiana

These words, memories and experiences all contribute to my understanding of the world but also contribute to pieces of me.  My experience of travelling to a place that I never knew I loved until a moment in time watching a show on a small screen on my laptop computer.  This is my experience of recognizing that I love Louisiana because it is a part of me.  I love the hot sweaty nights, the gigantic mosquito bites, the accents questioning my too african name and too nappy hair, the smell of beignets, the love of brown-skinned people, the unforgettable flavor of crawfish poboys and the smell of rain after a random downpour.

Its funny this post is really for my father.  He has encouraged me to write about my experience in New Orleans and fascinatingly it only took me almost 6 months to begin to process it.  This post is also for my mother.  She has always taught me the amazing power of knowing who I am and where I am from.  More importantly, I am me.  A travelling womanist exploring the world and slowly processing the trips that I have taken and how they impact we.

Peace B. Still,

ReFlectionary!!!

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~ by travelling womanists on May 6, 2011.

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