New Orleans Through Peace and Turmoil
It sometimes seems as if the outside world has no bearing on New Orleans. The culture, government and music is different here. Jazz musicians are pop stars and chefs are celebrities but sometimes they are the same such as Kermit Ruffins who is renown for both his musical talents and his famous BBQs. On Saturday the outside world made its way in when the protesters of Black Lives Matter, Take ‘Em Down New Orleans and even David Duke and his supporters assembled in the square in front St. Louis Cathedral to argue the case for or against the removal of the square’s centerpiece landmark statue of Andrew Jackson.
Prejudice has no boundary in America. In a city that is mostly African American, the statues commemorating the deeds of Confederate generals, white supremacists and slaveholders become highly contentious. It has pitted neighbors and friends against each other as we argue the relevance of these effigies in modern New Orleans. Among my black friends here, it is clear that race continues to be an issue despite African American heroes who have contributed significantly to the culture and development of New Orleans and thus the U.S. While I have my own opinions about these statues, I mostly keep them to myself because I feel that being here for only two years doesn’t yet give me a voice for which ones stay and which ones go. My perspective is that of an outsider’s.
The photographs below were not intentionally made to correspond with each other. These are from separate outings, however I decided that I wanted to show what it was like to live during this tumultuous time in this enclave on the Mississippi River that has more in common with the Caribbean than the rest of the United States. I feel confident that when the parades and festivals kick off, we will celebrate together, despite our opinions.
This collection was organized as a montage to reinforce what I wrote above. I wanted to arrange these photos to indicate as if these events were happening at the same time (of course they didn't actually). I wanted to show that we agree more often than disagree, with the exception of David Duke. I left him in here because of what he represents.