I can’t tell you how much I love New Orleans and its people. I love this city in an honest way. I am not blinded by infatuation, I know the problems and I have experienced those problems for the past 15 years. But a lot of good comes along with the bad.
It hasn’t always been easy; I could have given up many times. I make the daily choice to love NOLA and its people and this city loves me back. Some days New Orleans is easier to love than others. Today (Super Bowl Sunday), is an easy day to love New Orleans. Today reminds me that I don’t ever want NOLA to “Just get over it.”
Two Sundays ago, the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl hopes were dashed by a monumental missed pass interference call. Yes, they still had a chance to win in overtime, but the game never should have gone to overtime. We Saints fans, ever passionate, voiced our dissatisfaction about the call and the injustice against our team.
More than once, I saw phrases like “Just get over it” on social media … even from some who used to live here. I have heard that before. In the years following Hurricane Katrina, many people told me and others to “Just get over it.” I am so glad that NOLA’s answer isn’t “Just get over it.” That is not how we process pain. We process pain with a second line, music, togetherness, and action.
That’s what happened after Katrina. We came together and made this grand, old city even better – not perfect, not brushed up and shiny, but moving in the right direction. We were still working hard to make this city better when others started peppering us with the phrase “Just get over it.” This was only a few years after Katrina. Guess what? Thirteen and half years later, I’m still not over “it.” I don’t think I will ever be. And I don’t think NOLA will ever be over it.
This brings me to the Saints – some of the people who implored NOLA to get over it thought this was just a game. Already beloved, the Saints endeared themselves to the city even more after Katrina. Their rise to the Super Bowl in 2010 mirrored the city’s rise from the devastation of Katrina. Players like Drew Brees made huge investments in the city. By the time they won the Super Bowl, the team was much more than our team, the players were our neighbors and they were helping to make us a better city. After the Saints won the Super Bowl, Kimberly, Jonathan, and I joined a crowd of 800,000+ people on a chilly Tuesday night in February for celebration parade I will never forget. When I wrote about the parade and the impact the win had on our city, my article was dismissed by some. One person told me there was nothing special about the Saints’ victory, the celebration parade, or even the team’s connection to our city’s recovery. According to this person, I was just happy my team won the same as anyone would be and insinuated that I used the Katrina connection as a reason to moralize about the victory. I truly felt sorry for that person.
So, when the zebras ripped another Super Bowl trip from our team, many of us took it personal. Our team had our backs when we were down following Katrina. We wanted to have their backs because they are more than a team.
Instead of “getting over it,” Saints fans turned off their TVs (money is the only thing Roger Goodell and the NFL care about) and threw a big protest party for the Saints on Super Bowl Sunday. Actually, it was several big parties complete with second lines, concerts, and togetherness. Not just a few people mind you – lots of people showed up. One of the biggest gatherings raised money for our city’s recreational organization (NORDC) to help fund youth sports, senior adult recreation, and other vital programs – still working to getting better. After to today, Saints fans will stop talking as much about the blown call and that’s all people really want when they tell us to get over it.
But, I have this to say: NOLA, you grand, beautiful, strange, intriguing city, don’t you ever “get over it.” Whatever the next “it” is. That’s what other people do. NOLA, keep using your pain to get better – keep using your pain as chance to hang out together. It is one of the reasons we love you.