THE (NEW) NARRATIVES
The following narratives collected during the Crossroads Project reflect sentiments from both Louisiana-based participants and community members from Edgard and Wallce, La. These sentiments reflect a multitude of experiences and connections and may take on varied forms including personal essays, testimonials, and images. As this section is evolving check back for more stories.
RICHARD SIDAY (PERFORMER)
There are centuries of Ancestral History coursing throughout Louisiana's landscapes in documented accounts and artifacts; but what of the Physical and Emotional Recordings of these Historic Scars upon People and Land? How well does the Blood remember the Lineage to these Roots of Bondage? These were just some of the thoughts I contemplated during the process of rehearsals and filming. I wanted to be as a conduit to the Land (the Plantation), to be a Vessel to the Spirits that dwell there, to be a Tabula Rasa to the Choreography. The movement to this work was important. As a Descendant to both Cherokee, Haitian, and French / English lineage, I was innately drawn to this work and to dance.
Understanding Racial History is complex and confusing to me emotionally. How one's racial views are acted in obsessive violence and oppression toward one another simply because they exist to the believer is vile. So it came naturally during the process to let all Knowledge wash away; to not be connected to certainty, concern or judgment. To let my body speak of memories of the Land; for it bore witness long before I. I didn't want it to be intellectual - there was nothing intellectual about slavery. The pain of Bondage had to be what it was - physical. I was the Instrument as a Needle upon the Akashic Record of the Plantation, to the Generations that once dwelled there and to all that stood behind me.
RAYMOND TURNER (PERFORMER)
I'm pretty much gonna explain my experience at Evergreen plantation. To sum everything up, I didn't really know too much about plantations. You know, growing up, going to school, they only tell you what television tells you, and you know the few things you do read. So the first thing I hear about plantations is that it's the white people that own this big ole house and all this land and they have slaves. And, nine times out of ten their slaves are black. They're not free, they're calling their plantation owners masta and all these different things, you know. All these different narratives. And that's kinda pretty much what I had in mind. That's just what I thought it was.
As soon as I heard plantation, I just got real defensive...I just got more like...my people suffered, my people wasn't able to be free, my people didn't have it like that, or they was robbed. That's just the first thing I thought of.
When I actually got to Evergreen Plantation, First of all, that land is so rich. It's so rich, I don't even know how to explain it. Walking on that land, you feel a rush. You can feel the embrace of the people that were once there. Talking about it gives me chills.
Ms. Desiree was saying, It wasn't about skin color on this plantation....it was about what money you had. Honestly, that's the way the world is now.
And that to me, that woke me up. I felt like, wow, I need to do my research more. I went into this so narrow-minded, thinking, all my people are slaves.
Being in that land, It's like I'm talking to my ancestors. I will never forget that experience. My spirit was awoke. I just feel so rich in culture. It was an amazing experience and I'll never forget it. It made me think great about my people. All my people wasn't in bondage. My people was great. Even the people that were in bondage. They was great.
These people were so creative, so rich. I know that all my people wasn't in bondage. Actually some of my people was pretty dope.
TERREZE WILLIAMS (PERFORMER)
I see my land. My hard work. This is mine. Reclaimed and rightfully bestowed to its rightful owner. Royalty. Slaves were not able to dance and walk freely around the plantation. Just work and serve. Slaves were not able to sit in a rocking chair. I am not a slave. My ancestors were not slaves. We are sitting on the balcony, peacefully rocking in our kingdom. My people rest knowing that they own royalty. This is ours. We dance knowingly connected. Energies collide. Soul intertwined. Past. Present. Future. Connected. I am the manifestation of the foreseen vision from someone's knowing intuition. Whoever that person is called me here. To sense the glory of our God. Our awesome God. Portals open so we can dance together. To call others. To celebrate on our royal soil and land freely. Liberate the unknown feet. Walk with covered or bared feet.
This plantation was designed as status. Social status. To resemble Greek revival architecture.The portal is open. Future being propelled by liberating the people of Avato, Greece. During Ottoman Period, slaves were brought to Greece and they settle in Avato. I give the people of Avato, Greece what is rightfully theirs. Royalties.
God gave me the keys to my kingdom before I was born. That is why he gave his only son for me. My sins. We own the key to the main house. First, he had to remove all things impure. Slave owners. Things that wasn't of God. The cleansing of wickedness. Made new the land he blessed us with and we rightfully took care of. Blessed. Sacred. I give the kingdom back to the rightful owners, (insert black family name.)
ALDEN SIMON (PERFORMER)
I felt so much magic happening throughout the entire project. Truth be told, I've never danced like that before.
RITHO JOHNSON (PERFORMER)
Definitely was a crazy experience being able to see & get an idea of how & where OUR people lived & feel their energies till this day! I highly recommend going to see the slave houses an get some information on OUR history because there’s alot we don’t know an talk bout & not all of it is bad! Also the slaves weren’t only black people...... Furthermore, legends were made in this very specific place! So, with that being said, I wanted to leave them with a piece of me an my respect through what I love doing most!
RACHAEL KNAPS (PERFORMER)
This was an experience like no other. Growing up in Louisiana, we often took field trips to tour different plantations but never in such depth. I was astounded by the numerous tasks that go into keeping a historical plantation running. The staff was very knowledgeable about the land’s history and willing to admit there is still more to be learned. I appreciate that everyone, regardless of their background, was given the opportunity to speak their truth about the land. One of my favorite parts during the day, was getting to read through one of the oldest books I’ve ever seen. I have always been fascinated by the English language. Reading the book, I noticed many words were spelled the way I had always misspelled them in grade school. I’m having trouble wording this concept, but some of the old language seemed to make more sense to me due to the phonetic spelling. It seems that language has a way of evolving. Movement and physicality grow and develop over time, but still holds true to basic human emotions. Dance is a universal language. The way people move can tell you so much about their lifestyle. It’s a beautiful way for humans to communicate and connect.
I learned so much about the place I call home while working on this project.
At the Mouth of the River
We know things...
Like how to move in opposite directions
All the while standing still ….
How to see things in the distance
That seek to disappear
We know that heat’s haze
don’t pick sides
We see through its clouds
Yet keep steady in the mind
We carry the burdens
of all your afore lands
Go'on! Float it downriver,
We’ll play our hand
Maybe we’ll hold
Maybe we won’t
Hmm, which season shall we sow?
Well, that depends on how much
we want you to know
that sweat is the real holy water
And that water has no home
That patience is your anchor
ball and chain
And your mighty arrow
We know you must break bread
with your friends and your foes
that soul is earned
and speaks loudest when it whispers
It sees which one is still
And which one’s a shifting
It’s an eye with no reflection
Many lifetimes in its sight
It’s knows you're on borrowed time
And it knows your quivering frights
An earned soul sees through skin
And sees your muted might
At the mouth of the river...
We know you long for mystique
mourn your own senses
and sell your own defeats
Here, you must let go of elite vices
And false dreams
You must hear what cannot be said
Seek what cannot be seen
You must ride your intellect to the shores of your own ravine
Fall into its crevice, stand up and proceed
Here, we can suspend time
We can wrap it around your little finger
We can dance on your memories
And flip you around in your agenda
Here, money'll buy you fancy things,
But we know that grit is the real spender
We know that roots run muddy deep
And release secrets to the wind
We listen to the silt as it shifts and sinks
And eventually settles in...
Well...for a time, that is
We know that shift is in our veins.
And together, our blood breeds and flows
We know that the current is king.
And rhythm, The truth of all things.
This we most certainly know
We know we were once royal
And we were also forgotten.
So...we’ll play the roles proper
Because labels don't mean nothin
We know that distinctions
Are born of fear and boredom
And yes, we know adversity
and the joy that’s begotten
If only to rejoice that we made it through
We know grandeur and decay
And yes yes, rejoice we do
We know it all in the end
And that even when we cry
That knowing is our birthright
So we’ll wait, regroup
And do it all again
In this mouth of muddy dreams and demons
Before wisdom of saints and fools
We see the light that hides in shadows
and the shadows that hide in you
Here we know things,
And we conjure up redemption
So com’mon, relax in a little
be patient and listen
It ain't words you're listening to.