Being Southern-adjacent meant being able to visit family who spoke in dialect so reminiscent of the only Caribbean accent I could identify that I once asked my mother if we were Jamaican. It meant visiting my grandmother’s house, where the woods were pregnant with quiet, and the sky was brilliantly lit in its darkness by heavy stars.
In life, Roechelle Cox reigned supreme over the two narrow checkout lanes at Zara’s Lil’ Giant Supermarket in Uptown, New Orleans. Customers were drawn to her masterful, everyday patter, conducted in a big, cheerful voice. Only later, when they plumbed their memories, did they realize that, despite hundreds of conversations, they knew almost nothing about her. In death, Roechelle Cox became a sphinx. It was up to a reporter to piece together her story.
Off the overgrown trench of Eubanks Creek, there is a shoebox-rectangle building with airconditioning units peeking from the rooftop. Five opaque, painted windows glow under lights wrapped around the awning: red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. This is a code, if a bit on the nose. With no other sign, it is all that welcomes you to Wonderlust, one of Jackson, Mississippi’s few remaining LGBTQ nightclubs.
"This is a dangerous undertaking. You have to go to where the people are. I had to go into dope houses to bring stuff to people who needed it the most." In our Spring 2017 issue, we published the remarkable, first-person stories of two advocates who've spent years fighting for the humane treatment of drug users in North Carolina and elsewhere: Steve Daniels and Louise Vincent. Here's Steve's story.
"I wouldn't wish [addiction] on anyone.... [What we do,] It's harm reduction. We meet people where they are. I have to remember to meet people where they are as far as coming to accept harm reduction as well. It doesn't just work one way. I have to remember that it took an experience, being in Atlanta in The Bluff, working in the most devastated community and it came to me all at once: this is exactly what we're supposed to be doing. This is compassion. This is love."
Twelve and a half million Africans shipped forcibly to the so-called New World from 1525 to 1866 in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. At least two million died en route—by murder, suicide, illness, exhaustion, shipwreck—their bodies occupying the bottom of the Atlantic. These are facts that I know like I know the geography of my last name, and that gravity is indifferent to the movement of ocean tides—no matter who they carry away. This is a story of remembrance.
By Other Means
My father brags about his English over labneh
and zaytoun. His professor would cheer,
“This immigrant knows American
history better than you Americans!”
There is nothing to say,
over a lost love
and loved brother.
of a man’s song
when there is no record?
Can you also smell
honeysuckle and taste the earth drying out,
the hot asphalt and brown river?
See how the ants rush
from their colonies to pick apart the honeybee?