Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Fucking Mardi Gras!
















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16 Comments:

Blogger Dark Daughta said...

Yes, I understand the role celebrations can play in bolstering the psyches of the dominated, but doesn't this seem a bit like they're partying on the charred remnants of their world? I feel sad.

Tue Feb 28, 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Part of the tradition here, the Black tradition, the tradition of the dominated, is to celebrate not just the happy times but also the bad times, the end, especially, of bad times and to hope for the future. It’s like singing "happy" blues after your lover has left--it affirms that you are alive and that life can go on, will go on, is going on. To parade, to gather with family, to have a glass of wine and catch cheap plastic stuff reaffirms life. (What people see of “Mardi Gras” outside of the city is not the predominant experience.) Canceling Mardi Gras wouldn’t change the shit job the Army Corps of Engineers did on our levees.

It's hard for folks outside of here to understand. It's also hard for people to understand and remember that despite what they have read and heard, the majority of people who stayed for Katrina were not abandoned or neglected or had no access to escape. Many had rides, had family begging them to go but could not, would not leave their homes and the only city they knew as home. Were folks abandoned in the Superdome and Convention Center? Absolutely. Would school buses have helped? Yes and no.

I get what you’re saying. Can you get what I’m saying?

Tue Feb 28, 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Dark Daughta said...

Definitely, I do. It stirs up a mixture of pride, familiarity and history in me. I come from a people living by the sea on land too flat to protect us. It's been a geographical and climatic miracle, that Barbados hasn't been flooded out by a big hurricane yet.

Coming from the West Indies where there are also traditions of celebrating the hardship, too, I sit with the reality that it hasn't done a lot of "good" for our families.

Sometimes, in times when we could be dealing with some really harsh awful truths, we do take time to celebrate and to remember, so much so, that the difficult stuff gets obscured and sidelined.

I come from a tradition of carnival where queers dance with people who will attempt to kill them at any other time of the year, and, truly, at this time too. A tradition of carnival where all the children, abused or neglected or fearful of their various clans, must learn to dance and celebrate with families who don't pay their suffering any mind or try to cover it up. A tradition of carnival where the poor and rich, light and dark mingle...but only so much, when it's all over, we've all got our places to maintain. A tradition of carnival that invites white folks in to party even though their presence on the island historically right through to present day has meant that our cost of living has been way too high.

So, what you're saying is painful and familiar. There are tears in my heart and rage against what oppression and resistance manifest in our day to day and special times.

I'm a tantruming exile who tends to piss on people's resistance/celebration parties because I can seem to find that carnival groove, that urge to jump up, after all I've seen and heard and witnessed.

Trust me, g, I get it.

Thu Mar 02, 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dark daughta--do you think Carnival should be permanently cancelled in New Orleans? Or should it have taken one year off? What's the magical amount of time to wait before it's okay to laugh, dance--and dare I say it?--drink too much?

New Orleans has some of the problems you describe in the West Indies, but not nearly to the same degree--even now. Resist projecting your experiences there to N.O. We've got enough problems!

If we wait to have Carnival in New Orleans until we've created some Utopian city where nobody is poor and we all have a Ph.D. and the racists have moved on to other locales it ain't ever gonna happen.

Thu Mar 02, 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Dark Daughta said...

Nowhere did I suggest cancelling Carnival. This is about discussing, no? I was trying to say that I understand the complexity of what g bitch is talking about and bringing my own very well situated and claimed angle. What a strange way to engage, by putting words in my mouth. I left my last comment thinking how amazing it would be to actually talk about things like the purpose of carnival, to bolster the spirits in order to resist rather than in order to avoid resistance. I'm not sure how it ended up being that I'm instigating a totalitarian regime designed to end carnival. (giggle) Anonymous, your venom and logic sounds awfully familiar, have we met and perhaps duelled in blogland, before? :)

Thu Mar 02, 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Yes, relief. You cannot resist, rebuild or even face the next day oppressed without relief, preferably in the community, not individual but a group thing (like...?). I think part of anonymous' "venom" is the local (and national) conflict over having Carnival/Mardi Gras at all. Wounded locals (and some agenda-bound folks who really didn't understand the celebrate-to-keep-on-keepin'-on aspect) focused their anger and hurt over the destruction and neglect on Mardi Gras with the implication that white people couldn't wait to "party[...] on the charred remains" of black people, ignoring/forgetting/needing to deny that Katrina struck indiscriminately, that no levees were bombed or neighborhoods intentionally destroyed, that white people are being ignored, too, that the businesses still closed are owned by blacks, whites, Latinos, Vietnamese-Americans, East Indians, West Indians, you name it. The whole region got screwed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bush-Rove White House.

Hey, i'm liking the lack of civil discourse here!

Thu Mar 02, 07:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dark daughta--I agree you didn't call for the cancellation of Carnival. I was only trying to follow your line of reasoning. My real question is: What would have been the right thing to do? Cancel it this year? What would that have really accomplished? And, then, why not 2 years? Or more? Do you hear what I'm saying?

I truly am sorry you took offense. I was clowning around more than anything, maybe being a little sarcastic (as g bitch noted, here in New Orleans we've been having this discussion quite a bit), but I certainly didn't think I was being venomous.

Thu Mar 02, 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Times-Picayune actually had a decent article the other day on this very subject (it can be found @ http://www.nola.com):


"After 9/11, nobody expected this nation to skip the Fourth of July; indeed, a great many Americans thought that holiday was more important than ever. Likewise, not even Katrina can keep residents of greater New Orleans from honoring the traditions that define this community. The president of one krewe in flood-ravaged St. Bernard Parish put the matter succinctly: "We've had so many bad days," he said. "The people of St. Bernard desperately needed something like this.

"Of course, lots of people elsewhere in the country fail to understand what our Mardi Gras is about. They think it's tacky, sleazy, wasteful. They've heard of "Girls Gone Wild," but they don't know that friends and families gather together along parade routes. This year, parades are an ideal forum for neighbors to reassure each other that they're sticking around.

"Even as the floats roll, no one should think that we in Southeast Louisiana have forgotten our predicament. No one here needs to be reminded of the death and destruction that Katrina visited upon us. If you boated from or to your home, you know. If you left town on foot, along train tracks surrounded on either side with deep, murky water, you know. If you waited on the river levee in St. Bernard Parish. If you slept on the floor of the Superdome or a cot in the Astrodome, you know."

Thu Mar 02, 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

editorial, not article :)

Thu Mar 02, 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Dark Daughta said...

Hi g bitch and anonymous,
Yeah, the passion and emotional presence isn't something I'm accustomed to seeing or experiencing online.

No offense taken.

I think for me the issues as I see them (as much/best as an outsider can) are not about stopping carnival. I've gone on with gatherings I've planned even in the most upsetting times because I knew that the longterm effects would bolster me for what lay ahead.

My beef with carnivals is not about whether yours should be stopped. I'm not a bureaucrat or politician. :) I'm more interested in creating and/or sharing opportunities that occur at places of rupture (when our lives get turned upside down completely either literally in your case or figuratively), to explore what it would mean to think deeply, to explore possibilities for change or for new forms of resistance...of course predicated on the old or the traditional.

In short, how do we build on the legacies of resistance bequeathed to us in ways that will move us farther and pay hommage to the amazing revolutionary actions of our ancestors?

When our shit gets burn' up, torn, stolen or otherwise destroyed, the ground is fertile like volcanic soil. How can we plant in it and reap the benefits of that planting even in present day.

Just seeking conversation and perhaps flight.

Fri Mar 03, 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good! Glad you're not offended, dark daughta. Great discussion. Maybe it's a case where we're all trying to climb up the same mountain but taking different paths.

Fri Mar 03, 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

What is not seen outside of New Orleans is the satire in the parades and marching, not only the defiance of being in the streets at all after Katrina and FEMA and Shaw Group and sheer neglect and fraud but the group anger at government expressed. Will it lead to change? Maybe, maybe not but it did help bolster the locals who need something.

anonymous is obviously a local and locals feel passionately about the city. We all hope that better can come out of all we've lost, better schools, better government, better representation, better wages and quality of life, jobs other than "hospitality" without losing our grass, any more of our trees, our culture, our black people, our other people, our food, our links to the Caribbean, Africa, France, Spain, etc. We all hope. How it'll all work out.....depends on how many who's get greedy and steal "their" share, the same old same-old.

I should post more of the local views, voices, fears and needs and hopes and plans. There's a lot going on/being said even I know little about as I struggle to get thru the days. But I also want to be able to NOT talk about the recovery, the city, the potential strife and the downtroddenness of the days because of the damn downtroddenness of it all.

Glad no hard feelings. I like having you as a reader, dark daughta.

Fri Mar 03, 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Dark Daughta said...

Heard, seen and understood.

Fri Mar 03, 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Dark Daughta said...

Please post some more. I keep coming back to see what else you've got up your sleeve. Until then...waiting patiently. :)

Sat Mar 04, 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dark Daughta said...

Oh, and i'm interested in your take on something. Can you come to my blog for a sec and look at Sex Positive Parenting...ARGH (http://darkdaughta.blogspot.com/2006/
03/sex-positive-parenting-argh.html) and I Feel Excited (http://darkdaughta.blogspot.com/
2006/02/i-feel-excited.html)? I'd love to have your input.

Sat Mar 04, 07:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog while looking for resources on colorism with which to teach my primarily non-white 9th grade students in upstate NY. Your voice is powerful. Keep up your good work.

Thu Oct 19, 06:37:00 AM  

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