Noirlinians x #EssenceFest: #MyNOLAdiary

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Denisio and Mwende / Guest Photographer / New Orleans / Our Closet

Photos by Paa Kwesi Yanful (@kwesithethird)

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This year Noirlinians was invited by #EssenceFest to take over their Instagram account for a weekend to tell (Our) #MyNOLAdiary. We met up for an afternoon with Kwesi, one of our favorite local Ghanian photographers for this shoot with a twist…for once, we got to choose the locations of the shoot*.

| We are Noirlinians, and this is #OurNOLAdiary |

*in typical Noirlinians shoots/blog posts, local or New Orleans based Black photographers choose locations based on spatial narratives of Africaness/Blackness they know/want to tell around the New Orleans, which we consider ‘the most African city in the United States’.

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Community Book Center (2523 Bayou Road)/Bayou Road

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The Community Book Center‘s tag line is that it’s “more than a bookstore” which rings true for this space that is near and dear to both our hearts.

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The CBC, located on the historic Bayou Road, is a gathering space for community members and hosts numerous Black centered events including dinners, workshops, organizing meetings, youth events, book signings, poetry readings, and our (semi)monthly meet up/pop up shop.

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Mama Vera

Mama Jenn and Mama Vera, the two women who operate the store are also invaluable resources on New Orleans history and local anchors of the community. Mama Vera founded the store in 1983 when she was a substitute teacher. After noticing a lack of Black centric books in schools, she shared books by and about people of African descent from her personal library with interested students and teachers, eventually leading to the CBC as we know it today.

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The store itself carries African-centered books, art, fabric (including the ones we import from Kenya), gifts and more. Check out this space and other spaces such as Club Caribbean, Coco Hut, King and Queen Emporium, Beauty on the Bayou and more on Bayou Road during your stay.

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Bayou St. John

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Not too far from Bayou Road is Bayou St. John, a calm peaceful place to get away from the downtown bustle and have a picnic or sit by some calm water.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThough it is home to festivals like Bayou Boogaloo (which was headlined by our friends Tank and the Bangas– check out our piece ’12 Black Women in New Orleans to Follow in 2017′ to read more about front woman Tank), it is also a spot used for small gatherings and quiet events like reading, writing and watching the world go by with a good friend.

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Studio Be 

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetStudioBe is the 3rd installation of the “Be” series by local artist and friend Brandan ‘BMike’ Odums who has temporarily transformed the 30,000 sq. foot warehouse into an art space for his first solo show “Ephemeral/Eternal”. BMike is also one of the artists participating in a new project by Noirlinians, an panAfricanist arts and activism project seeking to connect creative activists and organizers in the most African city (New Orleans) to Nairobi (stay tuned for details…). When you stop by the studio, you may see a mural of a familiar face from our blog sporing an “Unapologetically Black” shirt from the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), a national organizing group in the Movement for Black Lives that has a local chapter that was co-chaired by Mwende and Chrsitine ‘CFreedom’ Brown  (another woman on our list of ’12 Black Women in New Orleans to Follow in 2017′ and another artist that is part of the exchange) when a chapter was founded in New Orleans.

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Former Site of Confederate Monument

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetLast month, 4 Confederate monuments were removed from the city after years of organizing work around the topic by local organizers, activists and community members (though if you look closely at the background of the photo below, you’ll see a small camp of Confederate supporters by another monument just across the street).

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While folks may be familiar with #TakeEmDownNOLA, the latest iteration of this movement in the city, it is important to note the historical struggle for public space and representation that residents of this city have taken part in.

A well known photo that was often seen during the TEDN campaign shows the Rev. Avery Alexander, a civil rights leader being assaulted by the NOPD during a public protest against the rededication of the Liberty Monument, another monument to white supremacy in the city. A lesser know struggle was won in 1992 to rename schools that were named after historical slave owners including George Washington and John McDonogh.

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Congo Square 

On the other side of the taking down of monuments to white supremacy and the stripping of school names form slave masters lies the question of what will replace them when they disappear?

Processed with VSCO with e5 presetCongo Square is one such space local organizers fought to rename. Previously, it was officially named “Beauregard Square” , though it had been known and called “Congo Square” in the community in order to honor its specific Black history as a site of gathering, commerce, cultural resistance and celebration for enslaved peoples and free people of color in New Orleans past. Congo Square is located inside of Louis Armstrong memorial park and hosts a local drum circle every Sunday afternoon led by the Congo Square Preservation Society that dates back to 1988.

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Odoamo

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetDr. Sophia Aomo Omoro’s boutique Odaomo is an experience and a rarity in the French Quarter which has literally a handful of Black Owned Businesses (…though you’ll find many Black people employed in service positions-take a Hidden History or KnowNOLA tour to find out more about the area’s Black history. Also, check out the story of Tracy Riley-Moore and her experiences of economic racism as a Black business owner trying to operate in the French Quarter).

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Located on the corner of Chartres and Dumaine, this beautiful shop features Sophia’s original designs which speaks to her Kenyan heritage and New Orleans influences. In addition to being a designer she is also a Otolaryngology surgeon, because, aren’t Black women magic?

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Noirlinians is a love story by two wandering Daughters of the African diaspora 

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The Author

Noirlinians is an AfroFashion blog exploring the complex relationship between culture, clothing & identity in the diaspora. Featuring Liberian artist and designer Denisio Truitt of DOPEciety and poet and organizer Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa, the idea for the blog emerged after a fast friendship developed between the two based on their African heritage and artistic interests.

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