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The Essence of Independence

During the first few days of July, thousands of people flooded the streets of New Orleans to attend and participate in the Essence Music Festival. Many spent time at the Convention Center, spent money at local stores, and enjoyed the culture of this beautiful city. On July 4th, people across the country commemorated what has been designated as Independence Day.

For some, the Fourth of July represents independence – moving from under the rule of British law. For others, especially Native Americans and Americans of African descent – present company included – the day signifies something that counters what resonates culturally and traditionally among many of non-European descent – interdependence.

The Essence Festival and July 4 have been commercialized to become economically profitable for the system in America that promotes dependence on, rather than interdependence with and among. Both were established to counter what some may define as subservient and power grabbing situations, disrespect for and towards native and indigenous people.

For many people, particularly families in New Orleans, the holiday and Essence Festival present opportunities to host parties and celebrations. However Essence Festival, originally designed to lift those who have historically been relegated to the back pages or smallest print of pages of history or only to the oral histories from elders, has become to many an unrecognizable entity presenting an imbalanced narrative centered on partying.

Vera Warren, an alumnus of McDonogh 35 (Public) High School, college graduate, and business owner of Community Book Center (CBC) counters that imbalanced narrative. Since 2012, Home Fest at CBC has provided space and the spirit of Ujamaa (cooperative economics), for community members to share and display economic capacity and responsibility. Thanks to Vera, Mamma Jennifer, Baba Dave (alum of New Orleans Public High School, Walter L. Cohen) and others, interdependence was fully alive and well during the first weekend in July!

See you next month baby!
Dr. Lisa – New Orleans Born, Raised, and Returned©

Dr. Lisa talks about the importance of interdependence and her
work with NOLA BRAR at 
Home Fest, a celebration of local
commerce hosted by Community Book Center in New Orleans
7th Ward during Essence Music Festival weekend.