Like everyone, I’ve been following the terrible tragedy of New Orleans in news and blogs, feeling deeply but not writing much myself. So many of us who have visited New Orleans have been recalling it, thankful for having had that opportunity, and sad at the loss of all that unique beauty and culture, and horrified at the loss of life and the continuing struggles of the homeless. Others have written far better than I could. I’d like to point to two very meaningful ones by an artist and a writer who both speak of the great culture of that city, that is deeply based on its people.
Artist James W. Bailey blogs about art at Black Cat Bone and lately of course it’s been all about New Orleans where he lived for 20 years. I was particularly moved by the one about the hoodoo culture in New Orleans. (I thought it originally came from Haiti though.)
Author Anne Rice, who was born in New Orleans and has lived there many years, wrote a wonderful article Do you know what it means to lose New Orleans? (via Conscientious). Rice extols the vibrant black culture, but also the Irish, Italian and German immigrants who came in, who all made New Orleans a special home.
Something else was going on in New Orleans. The living was good there. The clock ticked more slowly; people laughed more easily; people kissed; people loved; there was joy.
Which is why so many New Orleanians, black and white, never went north. They didn’t want to leave a place where they felt at home in neighborhoods that dated back centuries; they didn’t want to leave families whose rounds of weddings, births and funerals had become the fabric of their lives. They didn’t want to leave a city where tolerance had always been able to outweigh prejudice, where patience had always been able to outweigh rage. They didn’t want to leave a place that was theirs.”
Do read both articles!