I don’t speak on the “Qul-Cha” here in New Orleans much anymore because I figure “What’s the point?” New Orleans operates the way it always has and always will and the people here seem to like it just fine so there’s really no need to be getting all sweaty trying to start some kind of social change that no one is going to support. Like they say “If you don’t like it? Leave!” Which is what most sane people do instead of staying and having the eventual nervous breakdown that everyone here feels is a normal, healthy part of life. Fact of the matter is I’m here for the time being and there is an alternative to leaving. Exposing it!
For as much as they like to call this place the “Big Easy” there is very little easiness about it. In fact it’s quite the opposite. There are many more obstacles here just with the lack of opportunity alone. Corrupt politics, crime, lack of education, the ghosts of slavery, and the slow recovery from Katrina make New Orleans a “Big Challenge” in more than a few ways. But this ratchet little town still holds affection for me and I try to be positive (I’m sure it’s evident how much that approach has worked) I could overlook all of the city’s many shortcoming in a heartbeat if not for the main one that I believe is tearing it down. The fact that the “Crab” mentality is so thick is the main reason why I fear it has very little chance of rising to the city it should become. The people here just hate each other to much. No matter how much they drink, second-line, and festival with each other, they really don’t want to see anyone do better than the next. Other cities have their own version of the crab barrel phenomena, but New Orleans takes it to a whole other level. This isn’t crabs in a barrel; this is an all-out crab boil!
I got away for the weekend, and on the drive toward the coast I realized how landlocked New Orleans is. It’s surrounded on all sides by water and about ten feet below sea level so that makes it a literal bowl.
This isn’t new knowledge for me, but I do look at it from a different perspective than I did before. Before I used to think “Great, water all around us,” but as you get older and wonder where you would settle here and the lack of options being landlocked is a very big deal. The limited resource of land leaves the residents living on top of one another. No one has room to stretch their feet. Everyone remains in this compact, neighborhood way of thinking that’s so small it has people literally killing someone over street corners. Not only is the land limited, but the land that can be developed is limited as well. The city is built on a marshland that’s slowly disappearing. So that leaves all the crabs scrambling on this island of a city. Add to that the fact that we’re ten feet below sea level and we’re in a literal crab pot. When we’re left alone we are peaceful and quiet, but all it takes is a poke of the stick and we’re all gnawing and clawing at each other again. Most people I talk to have that same stuck feeling. Like they really love the city, but they just can’t take all the bullshyt that comes along with it anymore. Most of the people I’ve seen leave the city are always looking to the Lawd for instruction feeling like they must be on some sort of spiritual test from him that they are failing.
The biggest obstacle from my own personal experience is this pirate like, cutthroat behavior that everyone equates to “keeping it real”. There truly is no moral code here. No honor among thieves at all. Women get snatched and raped from their front door. Children’s birthday parties are the backdrop for gang shoot-outs, and Mother’s day second lines are where thugs do target practice. We live among the bastard sons and daughters of thugs and whores, and that’s apparent on a daily basis. I’m not even talking about just the impoverished blacks. The whites re just as guilty. They claim superiority because their forefathers owned our forefathers, but they’re the descendants of trash just the same (Stay mad). Their families may have been around since the city was settled will ignore the fact that the city started off as a Euro Trash prison where they sent the degenerates of society. That’s how the city began, and that’s how it still operates today. Everyone thrown in the pot together with some Zatarain’s seasoning and expected to fight their own way out.
The whites feel superior so they oppress the blacks. The blacks have created their own caste system based on skin complexion and French blood, so they oppress each other. Every group has created so many reasons to hate each other that the locals now think that “Hate” is the new way to express love. What qualifies as a friendship here I’ve decided to take a pass on. Don’t get me wrong. There are some truly amazing people here. Men and women I’m proud to call friends, but these are people I grew up with. New friends could literally get you killed in New Orleans and I’m not being over-dramatic. I look at cases like Terrilynn Monette and see it as a case of someone who wasn’t from here thinking she had friends, but were quick to tell her “Girl go sleep it off in the car. I think this Trade like me” and leave her to her own devices. The good people I know keep their head low and their eyes forward as not to get targeted. You just can’t risk the drama because around here it’s always some extra shyt.
People have become justifiably distrustful of each other and it just doesn’t seem like an environment conducive to any real change. The only blacks that enjoy the city will tell you things like “I hang with the white people” or “You just got to know the right people” as their reasons for prospering. When they say this it just makes me even more depressed. I don’t have the heart to tell them that if you feel you can’t hang with your own people and be happy then there are too many failures in that for me to count.
No one truly wants to see anyone do well either.(Now I’m just getting petty) Even if they aren’t competing in the same field they will still sabotage each other hoping one doesn’t get more successful than the next. I truly cannot tell you who is worse out of the males and females. I have seen some so called “Alpha Males” with some very submissive tendencies. Dudes hanging with each other and dropping the dime on each other for girls is a concept that I’m not comfortable. Of course this goes on other places, but trust me when I say that it’s just about everyone. The females are by no means virtuous and innocent. Most of them keep up conflict and mess between the men just out of sheer boredom. The women are all in direct competition with each other for the same three sorry ass dudes. I could go on. There are just so many dynamics of “Hate” here.
Whenever you’re feeling discouraged just ask yourself “What is accepted here? Who are the right people?” The answer will bring you comfort. Corruption, prostitution, murder, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, drunk driving, hustling, abuse of power by officials, and any other degenerate behavior that’s counterproductive to wholesome values. That’s what is promoted here. Call me negative all you want. I no longer feel that saying the things that others who live here feel as well is being negative. I call it being real, and that label of negative is what many of the residents here use to shame trendsetters into keeping shut and not going against the status quo. I have a responsibility to write this for the couple of people out there that might be feeling the same way. Not all of us second-line year round and under the hypnotic spell of this city. There comes a time when you just have to call it what it is. Who’s down for a Crab Boil?!
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