Excerpt from Talking in New Orleans (LitHub Essay)

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We missed conversation because conversation was love. We were told we didn’t love ourselves. In the inner city, we were killing ourselves, and we needed a savior, a white man from TV named Trump. Because when you’re the other, he said, your life is hell. When your life is hell, you have nothing to lose because you have nothing.

In New Orleans, where we came from, we had a saying: “we making.” This was a utility phrase, a conversational Swiss Army knife. Instead of saying we were at the supermarket purchasing food, we often said “we making groceries.” In other cities, if a person inquired about your family, you might respond, “fine,” a paradoxical reply because it contained no content. But in New Orleans we sometimes responded, “we making.” We making meant you were okay. Not perfect. But striving to perfect your life. This exchange was related to Louis Armstrong’s idea that friend’s shaking hands and saying “how do you do” was semaphore for “I love you.” Our inner city chit chat was small talk with large implications. It implied an innate humanity and the capacity for empathy.

But in Trump’s America we soon discovered we had lost our humanity…

(continue reading at LitHub)

Talking in New Orleans in the Age of Trump