New Orleans is a special type of city. I’ve never really seen anything like it. Everyone is so nice and will act like they know you, even though they’ve never even met you before. It feels like a big city, but then again it doesn’t. I’ve been able to experience this culture of community through multiple interactions, but here are the ones that stand out:
First off, seeing so many black people in one space enjoying life, laughing, listening to speakers together, and genuinely talking to one another is a beautiful thing.
The convention center was so packed and the best part about it was that it was FREE. Four days of meaningful programming for the community including giveaways, screenings for shows like Insecure, keynote conversations with Tina Knowles and Ava DuVernay, and even panels with some of the mayors in surrounding areas. Small businesses and vendors also had the opportunity to set up tables/stands to sell their merchandise/food and expand their reach. I truly think this experience was a beautiful way to empower black people, give the opportunity to meet very successful people, inspire the younger generation, but it was also a weekend where people could just be carefree, black, and proud. 5/5 experience.
Every year, cities across the nation host Pride parades for the LGBTQIA+ community and New Orleans is one of them. The energy at this parade was unreal. So much liveliness, music, dancing, smiles, and beads galore! Canal street was beaming with support and energy and I’m glad that I could be apart of this event as an ally. I remember cheering on a crowd of people and then someone hugged me and said “I love you so much. I feel like you’re already my friend.” I didn’t expect this reaction from anyone that day, but that small gesture made me realize that we need to support one another. Not just at parades, but in discussions, on a day-to-day basis, and in rallying/advocating/pushing for equity. Community matters.
TROPICAL STORM CINDY:
Hearing the news of a tropical storm nearing was a little uneasy, but I didn’t think much of it, because I figured Tropical Storm Cindy would just be a really heavy rainfall. Although TS Cindy was not going to cause much damage to the Southeastern Louisiana area, all of my bosses turned on their survival mode:
“Kristel, if you need anywhere to stay, you can come to my house.” “Do you need to go to the grocery store?” “Don’t bother coming to work – stay in!” “Be careful tomorrow and make sure to charge everything!”
Everyone was worried about my well-being and my safety for TS Cindy, which was something I was not used to — considering North Carolina doesn’t get many tropical storms/hurricanes. There was some flash flooding and some power outages, but thankfully it was not too serious. I realize that people in this city can wholeheartedly care about one another in times of potential danger/disaster and I can understand that – especially post-Katrina.
Although I only shared three of my experiences, I feel a daily sense of community here in this city. Caring about one another, asking about one another, gathering together (over food or for whatever reason), and engaging in camaraderie may seem like such an insignificant factor that contributes to the environment of the city, but, to me, it means everything. At the end of the day, all we have is each other. Of course, no city is perfect and there are still many aspects that the city is still working on, but at least there is a starting foundation — love and community.