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  • The week I moved to New Orleans everything went wrong.

    Within hours of entering the city, I realized my only credit card has been stolen during the US Social Forum in Atlanta. When I went to the bank to open up an account, I was told I would have to wait until I had proof of residency in the form of a utility bill or lease in my name—which would be impossible for the next few months while I was subletting.

    The next thing I knew, my computer crashed wiping out all of my files and leaving me disconnected from my main source of internet for what seemed like forever.

    Even navigating the streets in my car became a daily exercise in patience. Every street I went on dead-ended or changed its name, often fooling me with claims to be going “South” or “North." I would inevitably end up lost out on Chef Menteur Highway culminating with my car’s muffler breaking off on one of the many massive potholes that line the city’s streets.

    Yet, not once did I take this bad luck as a sign I shouldn’t be in New Orleans. My decision to move to New Orleans had not been made lightly. After spending the previous summer working to support movements for a just reconstruction following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and Rita, I had finished my last year of college with my heart, mind, and spirit with the struggles of the Gulf Coast.

    When I considered the possibility of moving to New Orleans to make a commitment to racial and economic justice for the long haul, I felt deeply complicated. I was accurately aware of the thousands of thousands of internally displaced New Orleanians—mostly Black and working class/poor, unable to come home at the same time as city and business leaders were actively courting young white Northern college educated people like me to make the “New New Orleans.”

    In the spring, I visited the city--setting up a series of conversations with elders, mentors, and friends engaged in various facets of the city’s grassroots organizing. Every single person I talked to listened to my thoughts and concerns and then asked me, “So, what do you want to do?” Without hesitation, I answered, “I want to be here.”

    Because fundamentally, New Orleans is a place of spirit, both of resistance and of enchantment. A place where even in the toughest of times you can walk outside, take in the thick air and be reminded of the legacies of the past and confront the precarity of the future.

    I’ll never forget the particular conversation I had with my godmother, a long-term New Orleans resident, when I expressed my honest desires. She told me, “There have always been those who have been called to New Orleans. Maybe you would have been called without the storm, maybe you wouldn’t. But you’ve been called now and you have to answer.”

    Those words have never echoed as loud as in the last month, as I have moved away from the place I love the most. Even as I enjoy being able to drink tap water, recycle glass, and the ease with which things work, I ache for the magic of the everyday and the ubiquitous cultures of resistance.
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