Thursday, August 16, 2018


My Natives Thoughts on Essence.

July 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Money, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.comThe Essence Festival brings a lot of money to New Orleans every year. Some local businesses will benefit from the influx of tourist in town for said events. We all know which restaurants are going to be packed as visitors’ flock to get a taste of New Orleans. Some local night scenes are also grateful for the traffic. I have always had my conflict over Essence because granted it is a beautiful showcase of blackness on many levels, but until recently it was not black owned. Some will feel that has no effect on the effectiveness of the event but for a city like New Orleans it does.

Essence Festival doesn’t just thrive for what it brings to New Orleans, but also because the city has the culture and heritage to sustain the event…and add a unique beauty to it that this city is known for. I have always wondered if the festival would be come a part of our culture in a sense that creates a lasting presence in New Orleans that empowers the people here.

I don’t expect any event to come into my city and save it from itself as that isn’t what is needed. As the black people of New Orleans still fight to survive in a city whose culture is powered by them they could use the solidarity that an event like Essence brings. New Orleans is so much more than the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and the Morial Convention Center. If one were to branch out into the city you would see hope, tenacity, and pride in the same space as poverty, struggle, death, and gentrification. In my mind to truly catch the essence of this city and all it offers one would have to acknowledge both sides of this coin.

Essence is black owned again and I can only wonder how that will affect the outreach of the festival. Yes, there will always be large corporate sponsors, but local vendors could use a real platform. The expo that is free is an awesome resource for local businesses, but how many of them are left in the shadows of the large corporations present in the same space. There has to be a way by which there can be some kind of balance. In that thought I love the empowerment Essence Festival brings to the city.

There are a lot of events that feed positivity to the soul, and in turn the city. That is so uplifting when some natives are literally fighting to survive. I have to believe the spirit of New Orleans is, in part, why Essence is in my city. I hope they understand the gentrification we face is trying to threaten that spirit. Without our culture New Orleans is just another city. As Essence is now in the hands of black people I can only hope they will bring initiatives to the city, in conjunction with locals, that would help address the injustices we face. I hope they will help us fight for our place in a city we love…and a culture we power. I guess time will tell.

Staff Writer; Chelle’ St James

May also connect with this sister via Twitter; ChelleStJames.



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