I'd left the city before Katrina for a lot of reasons — crime, bad service. My stepson was murdered. My mom was murdered. Things that are still in place today were in place prior to Katrina. We just had an unnatural disaster put us in the position of being a new frontier. Katrina was a forced migration that forced everybody up and out of New Orleans.
I do have some concerns about the changing face of New Orleans, though change is inevitable. I see white people walking in neighborhoods and living in houses where I don't ever remember there being white people. They are people who have wealth and means to come, but the people who want to come back home can't. I wanted to come back home and I've been back here for two going on three years, but I'm not staying here.
What's happening on Frenchmen Street with the music and the Quarter quieting down, that's just falling in line with the rest of the country. New Orleans used to be the whore of America. People could come down here and do all of the things they wouldn't do in their hometowns. But now New Orleans is their hometown and they don't want to see that.
I don't go to second lines and dance in the street anymore. It is a culture that is being exploited. Every occasion wasn't an occasion for a parade. And to say that's how the people of New Orleans are? I find that insulting, because we ain't like that.
I tell people very clearly that I can't dance in these streets being all jovial because I look around and see what the hell is going on. They might have somebody's blood on that same street where you're doing your little dance. I went to Super Sunday and the whole flow of what's going on is interrupted by white girls jumping out there taking pictures. Stay y'all ass on the side of the street and just watch them go by and go, "Oh, you're so pretty!" You don't have to take a picture.
The Disneyfication of our culture bothers me. What future are we providing for our children when the only industry is tourism? — AS TOLD TO MEGAN BRADEN-PERRY