This past weekend I found myself in New Orleans, Louisiana. As I was with my mom, who is certainly not the type to enjoy the lunacy of Bourbon Street, we spent our Friday night making our way up and down the tamer, more local Frenchmen Street.
My college years saw countless fun (if fuzzy to recall) weekends spent in the French Quarter, but somehow I never made it over to the jazz clubs of Frenchmen Street. A mistake I will definitely not make again. Crooning voices floated out of every doorway, local artists peddled their wares under twinkling string lights, locals and tourists alike drifted through bars adorned with exposed brick and Edison bulbs (you know the type). However, the most memorable part of the night came from a brass band that plays outside on the corner of Frenchmen and Agriculture Streets.
In the wake of the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile followed by the senseless shooting of the five police officers in Dallas, Texas, the United States feels like a tinderbox that could catch fire at any second. As I stood on the corner and watched these young men filling the streets with music, all of that melted away. All of the racial tensions, all of the anger and sadness, all of the differences between our human brothers and sisters that seem to be tearing us apart: color, religion, sexual orientation, political views… all of it was set aside. Everyone there, all kinds of people from all walks of life, took to the streets to dance and drink and laugh together. It was a really beautiful thing to be a part of. Even the police officers who came to move the party out of the way of traffic DANCED people onto the sidewalks! No force, no weapons, nothing but smiles and killer dance moves.
Now, unlike some of my dear friends, I’m not a native of New Orleans, and for all I know this could be one of those touristy things that happens every day in the same place. Regardless, to see that kind of harmony in the midst of such a turbulent time in my country really touched me. I think so much could be learned from the kind of acceptance, peace, and joy that can be found on a tiny drunken street corner in the middle of New Orleans.