Ludovia Journal #6

It’s late morning on February 24th and I’m sitting on a friend’s front porch looking out over the garden district of New Orleans on a Mardi Gras morning. I’m catching a few hours of sunny sobriety before diving back into the fray. I had the time of my life last night.

New Orleans has such a healthy and proud black community. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until I stood curbside at the Muses parade and saw one marching band after another strutting down the street to screaming crowds. I remembered high school in Oakland and my black friends. Everybody cheering for Shanice’s dance solos at the Black Student Union assembly every February in high school. Jordan stepping on my ratty-ass sneakers in English class and ceremoniously wiping them off. Iglehart slamming into the gym wall because he was just that fast. Rachel’s neck going off its hinges every time she got mad. Philipe’s obsession with Lourd’s Vanilla Ice Cream. Coop’s hype. Will’s asscrack when you least expected it. Reading Fences like it was Shakespeare.

Of the four towns I considered living in after leaving New York, Pittsburgh has the smallest African American population. I didn’t acknowledge that when I made my decision. I guess I must have been afraid to make “a robust black culture” the criteria for the city I lived in, but even if I didn’t say it out loud it had always been a subconscious expectation of mine.

There are a lot of things I love about New Orleans, but last night’s Mardi Gras was made a dream come true by of a lot of really happy black Americans.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make another costume.

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