Photos by Dawn Jefferson (Dawnie Marie)
Bunny Bread Factory, New Orleans East: So I’m from the East. Yes, New Orleans East. Literally born & raised in the East. So I’m a legit East Beast. I know its strange, but I am proud of that. I mean I can’t lie and say I’m from Uptown, I’d be found out so quick. I call the East many things: “the land that care forgot” “hood suburbia” “the city’s step child” “the after thought”. Because to me that’s what it is. Let’s back track. When I was younger I felt ashamed to be from the East, because people think it’s lame. It’s not as hard as uptown or as fancy as the garden district. It’s just there. So I would say it and cringe with anticipation.All that changed when I was in college. I started to notice more and more that the New Orleans I love was rapidly changing. So of course the pride I had in my city transferred to where I am from in the city. I see it like this: the place i live in is uncared for. So who else can better care for it than me? Why do I not have pride in it? Maybe if I do, maybe others will begin to care. I’m from here. I can’t change it. I should care about it, especially if other people see it as a wasteland. So now I go hard for the East, like I go hard for the city.Maybe I shouldn’t care what other people think. Especially the new people coming in, who don’t appreciate all parts of New Orleans. You know that no matter what map I see of the city, the East is NEVER on it? Gentilly barely makes it. I even confronted someone about it. She was an artist, who made New Orleans themed goods. She gave me some weak excuse about using some other map as a reference. I wanted to yell I didn’t care, she clearly had space to add the rest of the ninth ward. I digress. I shouldn’t care, but I refuse to be erased.This kind of relates to how I live as a black woman. I have pride in my black womanness I have to love my black womanness. I have to refuse to be erased as hard as they try. I also have to work over time to be sure I am heard and seen. Which is what I need to start doing for the East and the city in general. The black community is fighting to be heard and seen. We need to have pride in the places where we are from, because if we don’t who else will.