Renee Dugue Data News Weekly Contributor
How excited were we for this year?!?! Clarity of purpose, focus, and perfect vision are what we all envisioned 2020 would bring. Never did any of us imagine the tremendous change, loss, and pain we would suffer through. Although, from The N.O., we’re no strangers to losing loved ones. No other place in the country grieves the loss of life like we do. So accustomed to it that we still carry on the centuries-old quintessential New Orleans art form, brought over by our West African ancestors. Our Second Line Jazz Funerals are a true celebration of life and loss. A parade of pride and joy, we dance and enjoy the time spent with our loves before we usher them into the afterlife. Drawing strength from the enslaved that gathered on Sundays in Congo Square, we call to them with every beat of the drum and each step and strut up the street; as if to say “Come carry our beloved home and into the loving arms of Our Creator.” Call it voodoo, some say hoodoo, but we knew we had to pull through, and we still do! Even though COVID-19 has stripped our freedoms to carry out this cultural tradition, we must be as resourceful and resilient as our forefathers when, similarly out of fear and for safety (of White inhabitants) in the early 1800s, they too, were forbidden to gather. Just like them, we can and WILL get through this. We must learn to embrace the change. Change is truly the only constant.
Directly and indirectly, we all are experiencing so much loss. Our families, our finances, and our freedoms are being affected and we are all hurting. Each of us is in some way scrambling, trying to cope with the current uncertainty. Forced to shelter in place, many of us are isolated as we struggle to maintain, and are resorting to unhealthy, self-destructive coping strategies. For many, some “bad habits” (overeating, TV binge-watching, social media, drinking, gambling, promiscuity, and pornography) have evolved into addictions. For others, the battle to maintain their sobriety and stay clean has been overwhelming. Even those tasked with being strong for others have fallen victim, leaving their families broken and in more pain. We must realize that although this current state of affairs is new, our fight to survive, with all the odds stacked against us, is not. It was our people that made it through The Middle Passage, forced naked and bare feet onto this city’s very land, and into the mouth of the Mississippi River to gather with the indigenous Americans to build this country into what it is today. We were born with all we need to succeed, but it must be done together; not “Alone Together.”
No one person’s issues are theirs alone. Everyone is struggling with something. We must not allow fear, shame, or stigma to prevent us from seeking the help we need. Reach out, talk to someone, be honest, and PRAY. How do you think you made it this far? For me…I know it’s because I had a praying grandmother that had a praying grandmother, that taught my grandbabies’ great-grandmother to pray and believe! We must rely on our faith as we purpose every day to walk our paths. Our Creator woke you and me up today, on purpose, to fulfill our purpose. Together we are stronger. Let’s join to heal each other, and choose to live, prioritizing peace, love, and light every step of our journey.
If you are in need of non-emergency emotional support or are a local provider with resources to support your community, TEXT Renée Dugué of Reborn & Rising @832-683-8165. Together we are stronger. RebornAndRising.org