My question about what was really on the MySpace image for the late Dinerral Shavers’ 16-year-old student was wishful thinking. Apparently it’s a machine gun. That said, the Hot 8 drummer whose band has suffered so much loss of life received the sendoff he deserved. The heartbreak is apparent in every picture of his second line, as is the pride in cultural traditions.
The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (nomrf.org) is collecting donations for his son, 7-year-old Dinerral, Jr. Now back in our home away from Sweet Home New Orleans, the sympathy is soothing, but it’s like you’re describing life on Vesuvius to residents of the Garden of Eden. NOLA.com and WWOZ are my lifelines to home like all displaced New Orleaneans, and here’s one of the responses to the recent violence in the city. I’ve omitted his name in case you live in his town, find him and decide to kick his ass:
PL of BM writes:
"The majority of the violence seems to be happening in New Orleans because of the blacks that are comming (sic) back into the city. Expect more problems with the blacks as more of them return to New Orleans.
I was told by many people I know who live in New Orleans, the first Mardi Gras that was held after Katrina was the best they had attended in years because there weren't nearly as many blacks attending in the crowds, hardly any. Didn't have to dodge any bullets or constantly watch your back."
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Dalton. We lived in a hopeless time and decided it was a good idea to rob our hometown bank again in broad daylight while simultaneously robbing a bank across town and telling our friends how cool the whole thing was going to go down. My mom says the Dalton Gang fell in with a bad crowd. I’m hard pressed to know who that would be.
Bluster. Hopelessness. A dying culture. Being morons. None of the gangster outlaw tradition is black or white but the festering scab of New Orleans racism picking at itself is the elephant in the room. The elephant is the size of a Blaine Kern float. And the scab is the size of Algiers.
For 10 years I heard offhand racist comments in the south until I realized that yelling Yankee Yankee Yankee would stop an incoming salvo. Yet New Orleans is so integrated that some neighborhoods mix mansions with shotgun houses. This does not happen in Chicago where homes range from Gold Coast to Cabrini Green and never the twain shall meet.
I used to think New Orleans was a hotbed of racism, but while living there I realized it was one of the only cities in America that talked about it so constantly. Dating back to the first American Free People of Color, it is a world unto itself. It produced souls like Ernie K-Doe, the Emperor of the Universe. His passing was a great loss but wax Ernie still makes an occasional appearance thanks to Antoinette.
There is a fine line between New Orleans life and death. Our cemeteries are things of beauty. A second line is a party, a dance, a sendoff and proof that you were loved in this world.
I hold dear every life lost to 8/29 and will never resign myself to the cultural vaccum PL of BM writes about. I hope to Jah his statement does not hold true for Mardi Gras 07.
"There weren’t nearly as many blacks attending in the crowds. Hardly any."