Another site of Leftist struggle [other than Detroit] that has parallels to New Orleans: Palestine. From the central role of displacement to the ways in which culture and community serve as tools of resistance, there are illuminating comparisons to be made between these two otherwise very different places.In the New Orleans Black community, death is commemorated as a public ritual (it's often an occasion for a street party) and the deceased are often also memorialized on t-shirts featuring their photos embellished with designs that celebrate their lives. Worn by most of the deceased's friends and family, these t-shirts remind me of the martyr posters in Palestine, which also feature a photo and design to memorialize the person who has passed on. In Palestine, the poster's subjects are anyone who has been killed by the occupation, whether a sick child who died at a checkpoint or an armed fighter killed in combat. In New Orleans, anyone with family and friends can be memorialized on a t-shift. But a sad truth of life in poor communities is that too many of those celebrate on t-shirts lost their lives to violence. For both New Orleans and Palestine, outsiders often think that people have become so accustomed to death by violence that it has become trivialized by t-shirts and posters.While it's true that these traditions wouldn't manifest in these particular ways if either population had more opportunities for long lives and death from natural causes, it's also far from trivial to find ways to celebrate a life. Outsiders tend to demonize those killed--especially the young men--in both cultures as thugs, killers, or terrorists whose lives shouldn't be memorialized in this way, or at all. But the people carrying on these traditions emphasize that every person is a son or daughter of someone and every death should be mourned, every life celebrated.
Jordan Flaherty
Respected Teacher,My son will have to learn that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for ever scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend.It will take time, I know; but teach him, if you can, that a dollar earned is far more valuable than five found.Teach him to learn to lose and also to enjoy winning.Steer him away from envy, if you can.Teach him the secret of quite laughter. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to tick.Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books... but also give him quiet time to ponder over the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill.In school teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if every one tells him they are wrong.Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough.Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when every one is getting on the bandwagon.Teach him to listen to all men but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness.Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders; but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul.Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob… and to stand and fight if he thinks he’s right.Treat him gently; but do not cuddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel.Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind.This is a big order; but see what you can do. He is such a fine little fellow, my son.(Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s Head Master)
Abraham Lincoln