One thing that always bothered me was the placing of African American drill teams and neighborhood bands at the end of the parade. We had to wait while the other bands marched and played to their versions of precision. Nice bands. Nice. Until finally our steppers and drill teams appeared. We always closed the parades because the parades slowed to its own being as the community paraded as well, from the sidelines. We hooped and hollered. We knew the steps and did the damn thing with them on either side of the street. It was grand partying, but at the end, for me, there was this annoying reference to being different, at the end, bringing up the rear. We were considered uncouth, ignorant, uninformed as to how to attend a parade, especially downtown among tall building, suits, money and law.
Lately, I am finding that I need more connections, and turned to New Orleans. In this video, notice the sideline becoming part of the parade. Notice sideline steppers. Notice young men, dressed as they dress, embracing the culture (and the culture embracing them) with instruments, knowledge, love, spectacle, passion and grace. Notice how marchers stop and start, as the feeling of the thing leads them. It reminds me of when my girls were cheerleaders for our neighborhood ball teams and at the beginning of the season, there was a parade through the neighborhood. Of course we knew the steps, and following the parade through the neighborhood became the ritual of the event.
|Lorenzo Maurice Wise|
(1994 - 2014)
Lately, I am finding that I need more connections and turned to New Orleans, because I don't think I shouted enough at the passing of my grandson, Lorenzo Maurice Wise (August 17, 1994 - May 25, 2014).
I don't think I wailed enough, moaned enough, jumped enough, screamed enough. Certainly, there are more tears. That empty feeling is becoming permanent. I have experienced death of loved ones before, so I know in time the empty permanence will become a badge of courage, you know, after this, I can do anything. But do you know that feeling, of not having shouted enough?
He was 19 years old. What, I thought, is the proper way to bury a child. He was groovy, sweet, kind and generous. One of his friends needed help purchasing college books, and turned to Renzo. A homeless lady attended the funeral. We didn't know her, obviously Renzo did. He ate breakfast up the street from me at Margie's. We always thought her food not very good, but we don't know what Margie was cooking for Renzo, probably something special because every woman who ever cooked for him was the best cook in the whole wide world.
I call his name each morning during prayers at the ancestor table, Lorenzo Maurice Wise, ibaye.
I punch the wall, shout his name LORENZO MAURICE WISE!
But. . .do you know that feeling of not having wailed, danced or shouted enough?
Here, again is New Orleans, and I thank the family and friends of Jaran Julio Green for allowing me to share the party. I give thanks to Julio's life and insert Renzo's name in the chant. This is what I needed. We call it homegoing, and how do you define celebration. We are not ignorant or uncouth, uninformed as to how to mourn. We are Africans. And this is the way of Africa. I call Renzo's name every morning. When I need to, I party with Julio, his family and friends. I have stopped asking why. It is true, there are mysteries.