“Formerly the sun was red, the roads filled with brambles and thorns, the clouds were black, the water was troubled and stained with blood, our women wept unceasingly, our children cried with fright, the game fled far from us, our houses were abandoned, and our fields uncultivated, we all have empty bellies and our bones are visible.” The words of a Chitimacha speaker, disclosing the circumstances that his country endured during the brutal suppression applied by the French during the early 1700s, in what is now Louisiana.
I walked through the streets of New Orleans, having discussions with my friend Valencia and B Mike. I took videos of street performers with their guitars, drums, and other instruments. I puffed my tobacco smoke and asked millions of questions, as we walked with the dusk.
It suddenly dawned on me that, today, February 21st, is the day that Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. Slightly depressed, reminiscing about our hero, X, I’m walking through streets where slave auctions were held in the 1800s. I started to wonder, if I were alive then, I’d be standing on a block, waiting to become someone’s new property, probably only being sold for under $100 because of my small frame. Another thing that I learned, that in February 1699, is when the French invaded Indians territory, which is now called Louisiana. Upon the French “discovering” new land, as the alternative facts in our history read, they brought the Indians gifts. Not the gifts that you receive on Christmas, or on your 13th birthday, or at a baby shower. But gift such as small pox, pigs, rats, cockroaches, Christianity, and other presents that were utilized to murder and control, the Indian people.
People will say, “it happened so long ago get over it,” not understanding that history repeats itself like a broken record. History repeats itself like a annoying girlfriend. History repeats itself like an incurable disease. History repeats itself like blood, on every new set of leaves, on that same tree. History repeats itself like your favorite song when you’re not in a good mood History repeats itself, like, just look at the prison system. It’s filled with black bodies. Oh, that’s not slavery?
We drove past Congo Square, which is a park in New Orleans, where Africans danced, sang songs, and beat drums; pure African tunes, till as late as the nineteenth century. This is where Rock, Jazz, hip hop, and every other genre of music was started. It was only until, they snatched our drums, and our tongues, scared of what that music really do. They was scared of that revolution. They was scared of that Black medicine, that could heal this wicked country. Why did ya’ll need niggas anyway? What do y’all want from me? It seems like, everything. My sanity, my music, my cornrows, my gold teeth, my thick thighs, my phat ass, my plump lips, my big breast, my melanin? Sounds about right.
I didn’t want the past to haunt me, I was in New Orleans trying to clear my mind. But. I don’t believe that anyone can fully clear his or her mind of something they’ve been emotionally, spiritually, and mentally, affected by, for twenty three, or how ever many years of their life. However, James Baldwin said it best. “History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” Hundreds of years later, our streets are filled with cracked glass, blood, rats, our clouds are black, the pavements are troubled and stained with drug residue, our women are still being abused, our little homies still cry, internally, if not in the open, our houses are still smashed and vacant, our bellies are filled with poison; drive-throughs kill more than drive-byes, and our bones and guts are visible on ever corner where balloons and candles reside. This is history.
By Kondwani Fidel