New Orleans. My funky, cultured, musical, beautifully, dirty little city. Oh, how I love you so. However, lately, I have been feeling as if we need to take a break. Can I avoid you? No. My office is on Poydras. Can I hate you? No. You are like my first real love that stole my heart. But right now. Right now, do I like you? I do not. And I never thought that would be something I say.
I write this in response to a fellow local New Orleans momma that found herself as a victim of a horrific carjacking. Going about her business, just pumping gas at Costco on a Wednesday afternoon. Stories of what happened quickly bubbled up on social media from the witnesses to the heroes that helped her. I can’t imagine her terror in those moments. Thinking about her precious babies and her husband, her trust in humanity being violated. No one deserves to feel such pain, and I will keep her in my prayers for a long time. I hope that their family can find peace after being the victims of such a terrible crime.
When did our city come to this? I have lived here for 25 years now. I missed the high crime of the ’90s that I have heard so much about. I remember the crime after Katrina in my 20s and people feeling alarmed. But I have never, ever felt what I feel lately.
I am a true lover of New Orleans. I still remember the day we drove in and saw the Tchoupitoulas exit. I was enamored with the city, I had visited my grandparents as a kid but only dreamt of living in the place that was home to Mardi Gras. From 1998 to now, I still feel that same excitement in my heart. I was a bartender in the city from 2002 to 2010, it was my playground. I have always LOVED New Orleans.
How have we become a place that has 7+ carjackings a day? How are we a city that allows entire camps of homeless people to live below our interstates? How are we allowing 120 criminals out of jail because our justice system didn’t act fast enough? How are we sitting by as videos of people opening automatic gunfire in the middle of the street at 3 pm are shared on the local news? I don’t want to talk about the politics of it all, but where is the morality? Where has it all gone wrong? When did my love slowly start to turn into resentment? When did you become a place I no longer feel safe?
I hate to say it: I don’t feel comfortable bringing my kids to certain places anymore.
And New Orleans, I want my kids to love you. I want them to see you for how amazing you are. I want them to hear your soul, experience your art, taste your food, and embrace the uniqueness that we are blessed to live amongst. I want to walk them through your streets and let them absorb your energy.
I don’t want to be so paranoid when I go to the aquarium that I look over my shoulder the whole time. I don’t want to have to park two blocks off Magazine and wonder if my car will be okay. I don’t want to have to consider if my kids will be safe when they come to watch me ride in a parade.
This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.
We’re the city of love. Of acceptance. We’re a melting pot of cultures and you can always find a neighbor when you need one. We’re a warm hug on a cold day & a generator during a hurricane. New Orleans, what is happening to you?
We as a city – all of us – need to stand together against the influx of crime. No one is exempt from the pain; it is touching families of all walks of life in our area. I hate waking up to more bad news, and I know you do too. For all of our families’ sake, for our city’s sake, what can we do?
New Orleans, I love you. How can we get back to the way we used to be?