I watched a man sitting at a bus stop with empty beer cans around him, shouting out angrily, expelling his pains and his demons into the air around him and yet, still a prisoner.
Sadly for many of them, there are no social workers, no psychologist to help heal the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, no spiritual healers, no lovers of mankind, filling their streets, which for all intents and purposes, look like living graveyards.
Their suffering is not hidden, it is not unknown - for it is in plain sight for all who have the eyes to see - to see. Those who can help, are stretched to their limits, giving as much as they can, when they can.
What keeps the people of the heart - the Black Americans who live in the 9th Ward, Algiers, Mid-City, 7th Ward, Eastern New Orleans, and other parts of the city where there is incredible blight and poverty - in their hearts - I believe, is their dignity, strength, and willingness to trust, even when they have been repeatedly betrayed and cheated. This Black American community of the American South, whom my soul has come to 'know' as the people of the heart, have known horrors we cannot even begin to imagine. They are a people who must continue to deal with overt and covert racism everyday. They are a people who are being denied the help they need by corruption and misuse of funds.
The people of the heart, yes, these are the people that make New Orleans - uniquely New Orleans. They show up - in the moment - through gestures of respect and kindness - through saying hello to the stranger and waving from their porches and stoops as your drive through their neighborhoods...
The people of the heart - they have so much to give to us as a nation. If only we could see them.