Recommendation

Recommended reading, no. 5.

I am always looking for ways to improve Black Wide-Awake, to hone its mission, to reach its people, to expand its reach. I am inspired by the work of others pursuing similar projects with similar focus and will highlight them periodically here.

First up, Cierra Chenier’s Noir ‘N Nola, a multi-faceted blog focusing on a city that I know well and fiercely love.

In her own words:

“NOIR ‘N NOLA is a brand highlighting the history, politics, lagniappe, & soul of Black New Orleans. It promotes the unity and self-reliance of our community. It connects our history to our present, while laying the foundation for a better future. It is not politically correct. It is not a plea of help from others, but rather a call to action amongst ourselves.

“NOIR ‘N NOLA illuminates our rich history, highlights our local gems, unifies through cultural events, emphasizes issues relative to our community, and most importantly: commemorates the exclusivity that is BLACK NEW ORLEANS.”

Chenier goes on in a message to her people:

“To be Black in New Orleans is something that cannot be understood, bought or imitated. It is the way we pronounce ‘baab-ay’ in that thick accent, to the smell of Creole cuisine coming from your maw maw’s kitchen. It is the need to always represent the ward, neighborhood, or housing project you grew up in, and knowing what to do when you hear: ‘Cash Money takin’ over for the ’99 and the 2000.’ From holding the late, great Soulja Slim in high regard, to our laid-back attitude mixed with Southern charm. It is the tradition of bringing out the brass band to properly send home a loved one. It is second nature that once you hear second-line music at a party, ‘y’all ain’t gotta go home, but y’all gotta get the hell up outta here!’ It it the usage of ‘before the storm’ and ‘after the storm’ as a legitimate timestamp. It is the common knowledge that Manchu has the best chicken and Gene’s has the best hot sausage po’ boy. From knowing the difference between being from ‘across the river’ and from ‘cross the canal,’ to the endless debate of whether that frozen treat is called a ‘huckaback’ or ‘frozen cup.’ It is the ability to turn every situation into a laughing matter and making lemonade out of every lemon that was thrown at us. No wonder Bey used us as inspiration. We dodge bullets like we dodge beads and the murder rate is just as high as the heat index, but it’s home, and there ain’t NOTHING like home.

“As NOIR ‘N NOLA, or Black in New Orleans, we are built different.

“We possess a resilience and charm that cannot be found anywhere else.

“It must be something in the water.”