March 8, 2006
I want to mark today with a little blog entry against racism. Let’s celebrate Shades of Praise, an interracial New Orleans gospel choir. They’ve been around since 2000 and, since Katrina, they’ve become a support network for each other.
My friend Rosa is a member of the group—she sent me the heads up about this story on NPR (with pictures). When I first visited New Orleans, my friends and I stayed with Rosa and she showed us what the city could be: we went to the Rock-and-Bowl to hear (and dance to) Zydeco Force, we went to a cemetery and a traditional cafeteria. Everywhere we went, shabby or fine, Rosa shone, saw the light in the city, and made the city shine for us. She, a transplant from Connecticut, embodied all that is magical and funky and accepting and loving and cool about New Orleans and she made me want to move there, too.
She inspired me then: I wrote a short story about that trip, the only fiction I've written since college. So it’s no surprise to me that she’s part of this great group that is so inspiring. Hats off to Rosa and Shades of Praise.