My Nawlins Experience
Hello everyone! if you are following me on instagram, I'm pretty sure you know by now that I was in New Orleans. Today is my last day in NOLA and I figured I write down my reflections on this trip. As an immigrant (Nigerian, just incase this is your first visit here...glad to make your acquaintance) I will be writing this through an immigrant point of view and authentically my point of view)
My first introduction to New Orleans was the James Bond movie 'Live and let Die' starring Roger Moore. I was probably about 10 years old. I remember being scared out of mind by the Funeral procession Scene were Agent Hamilton gets stabbed. A second intro was the music culture. I remember watching My father's old VCR tapes of Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino ( hums ' I found my thrill on blueberry hill) I was probably around the same age. However, I didn't know these two legends were Louisiana sons until recently. Another famous Louisiana son, that I bopped to in my teens in the 90's in Nigeria... yes Nigeria, was 'Bout it Bout it' Master P.
Fast forward to about a decade later, I moved to America. my favorite radio station was the Tom Joyner morning show. My aunt that I was living with then, got me into it and I automatically took a liking to it... the comedy by Jay Anthony, oldies music which I loved. It was only natural that it became my favorite radio station to listen to when I finally got my car. One of the morning rides, I remember Tom Joyner giving away tickets for the essence festival and Frank Beverly and Mase was performing. I knew I had to be at the show someday.
The someday was the fourth of July eighteen. I am Here. I have to mention tho... what are the chances that Jill Scott who happens to share a birthday with me was on my flight. Y'all might ask 'but did you get a photo?' No I did not get a photo or a hug. My sister and I always say Aunty Jill gives me a vibe of a great and genuine hug giver hahaha! I'll get my hug someday but it wasn't on that day. I wasn't about to stalk Aunty Jill to the bathroom hahahaha! Anyways once I landed at the Louis Armstrong airport and stepped outside, i got that Naija vibe immediately. Oh and by the way I failed to mention my flight was Black Girl Magic! I went to eat at the famous Oceana. Food was great. I can totally say that I can not eat Cajun fries anymore unless it's in Oceana how about that ?
I was not here strictly for the essence festival. I wanted to explore Louisiana's pasts and present as well. So my party and I ventured out to explore the Bayous and Plantation (Laura and Oak Alley). I'm not going to lie, I was pretty excited about this tour until I got there and IT got REAL real quick! It was difficult not to put myself in the shoes of the enslaved and even with that I would not come close to the evil and torture they were subjected to. This evil transcends the physical, and is the greatest irony of what 4th of July stands for then and presently. While some folks were excited to spot the alligators, I was thinking how dangerous that might have been for a slave escaping from his or her slave owners. I could totally sense the spectrums of consciousness amongst the folks touring and for some it was outright White privilege and ignorance. For instance at the Oak Alley plantation this white woman was loudly speaking about how a certain spot will be great for a wedding shot...like really?. The ignorance wasn't evident in white folks only. At the Laura Plantation, the tour guide was talking about slaves from certain parts in Senegal that were specifically sought out for for their architectural expertise. They were great at erecting home using the wood bolt methods. So this older black lady (she might have been in her late 50's or so) loud as hell and amused talking about "I didn't know they were smart" like really? what display of self hate and ignorance. Her friend checked her and clearly she didn't receive the message because there was tension from her part. WE GOTTA DO BETTER!! IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF HURT WHEN THE IGNORANCE COMES FROM YOUR FELLOW BLACK FOLKS!!
I will add this though, I'm glad I got to do the tour and learn more about Louisiana.. Even better, that I did it prior to the Essence festival. The festival was an evidence of the resilience of black people and black women, it was a time to celebrate one another and talk about how to move forward and get better and be better.
Here is a list of new stuff that I learned about Louisiana, or things I unconsciously knew but makes sense now
- The Oldest cemetery is at the French Quarter. They bury their dead above the ground in New Orleans. New Orleans' water table is pretty high, thus corpse float back up if buried below the ground.
- Sugar Cane was another major crop that slaves were used for. It is produced mostly in Southern Louisiana.
- First Tarzan movie was made in Morgan city, Louisiana...can you imagine?
- Catholic influence: They used the word Parish instead of Counties unlike other states. Usually named after the catholic saints
- Copeland tower owned by The Copeland family who are the owners of Popeyes, Cheesecake Factory
- Steel Magnolia, Django Unchained, 12 years a slave, Roots II Documentary, Queen Sugar amongst many.
- All parts of New Orleans wasn't flooded and destroyed by Katrina. The parts that were destroyed were predominantly black neighborhoods or low income neighborhoods.
- New Orleans was slowly in the process of gentrification prior to Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina sped it up because folks were not able to return back to those neighborhoods. You know what happens next right ? White folks move in.
Hope you enjoyed the read. Drop a comment or two down below of what you found interesting, learned, or your NOLA experience. I'd love to hear