PC doesn't suit New Orleans

New Orleans culture is a gem with many facets that make it America's most unique city.  Recently, Mayor LaToya Cantrell tweeted a picture of the Joy Theater marquee reading: "Everything You Love About New Orleans Is Because Of Black People."  Many have understood New Orleans culture to be the result of a continuing cosmopolitan experiment unfolding for three centuries.  This experiment includes the contributions of the French, Spanish, Africans, Italians, Germans, and Anglo-Americans, just to name a few.

On a personal level, my family understood that my mama's lovingly prepared New Orleans dishes originated from her French ancestors, adapting their culinary traditions to this wildly different environment.  Does the mayor think this narrative is false?  Many New Orleanians understand that our beloved French Quarter architecture is inspired by France's and Spain's Mediterranean cities and adapted to the sub-tropics.  Are we wrong, Madame Mayor?

We think many waves of immigrants and newcomers have made an impression on Mardi Gras since the French brought it here at our founding — perhaps the most impactful being the Anglo-American innovation of organized parading krewes.  Is this history also mistaken?

What about the massive contribution made by the Italians with their holidays and cuisine, which has meshed seamlessly with the more French-inspired parts of our cuisine?  Or the German bakers' perfection of French bread?  What of the more recent contributions of the Vietnamese?  Are these contributions unloved or attributed to the wrong people?

Even our language is cosmopolitan — English spoken with some French constructions (making groceries), African, Spanish, and French word origins and an accent some speculate reflects the impact of Italian, German, and Irish immigrants similar to the impact they had on New York City English.  Is this, too, misunderstood?

Arguably our most famous cultural gift to the world, our music, reflects the obvious contribution of Africans with its rhythms and beats.  But would jazz exist without the brass instruments that originated in Europe?

New Orleans has always been delicate, geographically, economically, and socially.  This delicate balance has fortified our local culture.  Denying the cosmopolitan origins that have shaped it is more than unfortunate; it weakens us.  When this mayor was elected, I applauded the fact that she wasn't not born or raised here.  I argued that New Orleans's political and business leadership needed new blood.  A good mayor of New Orleans need not have a long family history here; however, she does need to know enough history not to traffic in woke falsehoods.

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