Friday, November 27, 2020


Three important rituals I learned living in the Deep South.

July 30, 2019 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Growing up in California comes with pride, beachy and urban aesthetics, and a sense of being able to make anything happen for yourself. Opportunity. It knocked from every hillside and every tech company rising (pre-2000), and you could answer. Or not, and find another opportunity lingering around the corner. With opportunity came a level of responsibility and expectations. This is all spoken of in hindsight, because as a 20-something I didn’t quite see those same opportunities the way i do now as I approach the monument that is 40. Having lived in the rich metro of New Orleans for all of my 30’s, I’ve noticed vasts differences in terms of those same opportunities, among other things. They deserve a list, a mention, and you’ll find them below. The top three rituals I learned while living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ritual One in the Deep South: Celebration of the simplicity. New Orleans is all about celebrations, small, large, planned, simultaneous. Living in California comes with intense pressure– to land on opportunities and create them, to always be on the go and to “be something.” And while you ponder possibilities you sit in heaps of traffic with fellow Californians aiming to get rich or simply get by. That’s not at all to disrespect or discount the difficulty there is all over the country and world to be important and impactful in what you do, but truthfully California is a pressure cooker. In New Orleans rituals like the second lines (music and dancing impromptu in the streets) remind me and other citizens how important just being in the moment is. Porch sitting and watching is something you’ll commonly see in the Deep South–where people literally sit on the porch of their house or apartment and watch cars, bikes, and people walk on by. There’s something extremely relaxing about sitting on a hot porch with a cold drink and taking in the sights and sounds of the south. Adding to the celebration of New Orleans: Mardi Gras, Essence Fest, Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, White Linen Night (Dirty Linen Night), Red Dress Run, and so many more. Grab a beer or some sweet tea and let the good times roll.

Ritual Two in the Deep South: Speak to strangers. No, not kids. This is definitely not encouragement for kids to take candy from the stranger in the white van. But in Louisiana I know for sure, strangers like to talk to strangers. When I first moved here, going to the grocery store became a new experience, with almost every person inside of them– be it Rouses (local to New Orleans) or Albertson’s– taking the time to smile, speak and/or stop to compliment you or ask you a question. Where I’m from–“liberal” and “progressive” get thrown around a lot. But in actuality, there is nothing more freeing and positive than being able to chat with a complete stranger, in the moment, with no intentions behind them but to engage in friendliness.

Ritual Three in the Deep South:  Making something out of nothing. This is absolutely a Southern thing no matter how you slice the Po Boy. Southerners have always been able to make miracles and magic from the makeshift items they were handed. Cue soul food. Cue the negro spirituals that created blues. Cue the term “makin’ a dollar outta 15 cent.” While this may be something the diaspora in the Americas can generally relate to, black folk in the South have made it a calling card in managing the struggle with a smile and true grit.

In essence, the Deep South, though historically challenged by enslavement, migrations to places like Chicago and California by vast majorities of Black families, and dissipating resources in schools and the workplace, have managed to hold it together and thrive again and again. A simple lesson from the South–be friendly, be in the moment, and live life to celebrate.

Staff Writer; Charles Foster Jolivette

This talented young man can also be found over at; The California Creole and also Charles Patreon Page.


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