Soul Searchin

The beauty of Blackness in all its EssenceFest

So I’m usually not one who likes to harp too much on my Blackness. Like I look Black, I talk Black (for whatever that means), and my entire world is Black (Despite what folks might think as a LA Native). Hell, I have the Black power fist tatted on me. I don’t need to make an announcement about it; at times, it’s felt like many folks have been very performative about it. Now, I am not here to police how anyone expresses their Blackness. I’m just saying that for you me, you know and see by my being. That’s enough. I started this blog to write my thoughts, share my experiences, and hopefully help anyone who might stumble upon it along the way. A huge tool I’ve used in my healing journey has been travel. This was not my first time at Essencefest or even New Orleans, for that matter. I’m almost certain I’ve written about it before. However, this time felt different. For one, we’re all older, so we were tired. LOL, But considering we’re still in a pandemic (a risk I was willing to take), the world around us looks so hopeless with a feeling of helplessness, and I’m 6 months removed from making one of the most significant decisions of my life, this was indeed different. If you’ve never been, it is worth the experience at least once. I’d recommend looking into hotels as early as possible, the fest is the 4th of July weekend every year, and getting your flights. Both can get very expensive and fast. Also, they do an early bird 3-day weekend package for the concerts. It’s worth doing it no matter what the lineup will be. They usually start the sale before the lineups are announced. If you are not interested in the concerts, there are plenty of parties. It’s best to signup on Eventbrite or one of the Facebook groups to find out where the parties are.

Regarding the convention center, it’s also worth checking out at least one of the days, and obviously, if there is going to be anyone there you might want to see. It can be a bit chaotic as a lot is going on, but the options food is delicious, the giveaways are nice if you’re willing to wait an hour or so in line, and it’s a fun atmosphere. If you’re eating in and around the quarter, be prepared for long waits to the popular places. I’m talking hours in some cases. We stayed around the corner from Marrows and never got a chance to try it because the wait was around 3 hours. Everyone is there to have a great time, so you’ll find it no matter what you’re looking to do.

In general, there is nothing like Black people. Like nothing. And if I wasn’t a part of us, I’d be mad too cause whew, what an amazing assortment of people who, when put in a space together, we shine. Something like 100k Black people, primarily Black women, descended on the rich in culture Nola. A city that holds a special place in my heart as my fave outside of LA. You can feel the presence of our ancestors at every turn. In the air and spirit of the place, in the deep flavors of the food. Through the uplifting sounds of the music. In the smiles of my people. There we were, ready to celebrate everything that makes us, us. And there I was, surrounded by a few of my favorite girls, ready to give the weekend all I had, even if it was just a little bit left. Before I’d left, the weight of life had been taking its toll a bit. While I am in a great place within myself, there is still a way to go to fully live the life I desire to have and know I am on my way to living. And that can be frustrating at times. Still, I’d bet on myself. I’d chosen me. And for all that loving myself enough to say I want different, better has meant in all the ways it’s playing out, I knew that this trip was right on time. Because when all else fails, surround yourself with love. And well, despite the picture they’d like to paint, the gathering of Black people is nothing but love.

The smiles as we passed each other in the streets, the “oooo your hair is cute.” or “Yaass, sis! I see you.” that has you feeling like a million bucks. The laughter, the inside jokes shared across a community of people who have consistently been torn apart, and yet, still we rise. Black people aren’t a monolith. There is no one-size-fits-all to truly grasp the depths of our experiences, but there is this common knowledge between us, like the one we all just shared right now as we took that in. The competition was lifted in this space where we’re openly celebrated for our differences. The freedom is apparent, even if only in this existence. It’s just love. Cause we are love. And if there’s anything that’s healing, it’s love.

Coming off the high from a weekend celebration of Black life, I am worn out and full. Listen, we gave Nola all we had; it was a lot. But it gave me a renewed sense of being, the reminder that I am a mystical, magical being created with a unique purpose on this earth. And while the pains of growth can sometimes cause weariness, the excitement from becoming the fully formed version of myself is enough to fill the wombs and push me forward. In the spirit of celebrating all that it is to be both Black and woman, I will forge ahead, knowing that there’s far more that I can do than I cant. So here’s to it!

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