Nov 262014

jewel bush

My 11-year-old son used his allowance to purchase a BB gun at Academy Sports & Outdoors on a shopping trip with his grandfather a few weeks ago.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about it. My father, who grew up in Rosa, a rural agricultural community in St. Landry Parish, thought nothing of it. He grew up hunting deer, rabbit and whatever else was in season along with his eight brothers and scores of cousins. Back in his day, as kids, they handled real shotguns, not replicas, and missed weeks at a time of school to help his father in the fields. Continue reading »

Nov 042014

jewel bush

By 10:30 a.m. yesterday, the eve of the 2014 mid-term elections, I had already received three political campaign calls.

When my cell rang for the third time in an hour with a call from yet another unfamiliar phone number, I was beyond perturbed. I heard President Barack Obama’s voice and immediately hung up.

Yes, I hung up on the leader of the Free World. Continue reading »

Oct 282014

jewel bush

My son was 5 years old when he made the disturbing announcement that “Cornbread” had been shot.

He told me a detailed account of Cornbread dribbling a basketball in the rain when “they” shot him — shot him in the back! Panicked at the thought that my son might have somehow witnessed a murder, I interrogated him: Who is Cornbread? Who is “they”? Where did you see Cornbread? When did you see Cornbread? Continue reading »

Oct 212014

jewel bush

Last week, an eighth grader at a ReNew Schools charter in New Orleans East suffered second-degree burns from having scalding water thrown on him by another student. He required skin grafts for the wounds to his legs. This wasn’t the first time this student had been attacked on campus. A few months earlier, a different student slammed his head into the concrete.  He reported that incident too.

I applaud this student for being brave enough to come forward. It takes guts to speak out against bullying.

Anyone who caught the RTA, or the “Rita” as we called it, to school in New Orleans in the 1990s or 2000s has a wild story or two to tell about extreme bullying. Continue reading »

Jun 102014

jewel bush

You’ve seen them at many intersections and overpasses across the city.

They weave in and out of traffic at red lights, often dressed in team jerseys or uniforms, their sweet faces so hard to say no to.

They work in teams usually. There are the sign carriers. Sometimes the signs are pithy and drum up sympathy. Other times, the words on the poster boards are a scrawl so faint you can hardly decipher the exact message. One thing is unmistakable, though. They want money. Continue reading »

May 132014
Students present their plans at the Contemporary Arts Center. (photo by jewel bush for

Students present their plans at the Contemporary Arts Center. (photo by jewel bush for

jewel bush

With the unleashing of their imaginations and mentorship from the National Organization of Minority Architects, four teams from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, Sci Academy and Urban League College Track spent the last year analyzing the needs of various neighborhoods around the city and then developing architectural plans designed to meet those needs.

Security, transportation, employment, shelter and food were among areas the youth considered during the urban planning process. They sought to define space and place and answer questions like: Does a church fall under the category of public space, entertainment or education?

And what the budding architects, ranging in ages 11 to 18, envisioned is nothing short of thoughtful, innovative and really, really sweet. Continue reading »

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May 062014

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Today, consider foregoing eating out or that fancy cup of Joe and give to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations across the city participating in the community-wide online giving campaign, GiveNOLA Day.

The minimum gift is $10, less than the cost of an IMAX movie ticket or a happy hour special. Continue reading »

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Apr 292014

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The New Orleans Public Library System is in trouble.

Next year, the city has to find an additional $3 million just to keep the 13 current libraries open. That’s keep-the-lights-on money. Purchasing new books or investing in new library technologies are both out of the question under this scenario. Continue reading »

Apr 082014

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Dianne Honoré has been a French Quarter tour guide off and on for more than 20 years; and this, she said, is the worst it’s ever been.

“My heart breaks when I walk through the French Quarter sometimes,” Honoré said sipping a coffee in Treme Café on St. Philip Street. “It disgusts me the lack of protection, the level of filth.”

Honoré is talking about the all-time high population of “gutter punks” that blanket the French Quarter. The gutter punk colonies run along the river, along Decatur Street. The 500 block of Bourbon Street is a gutter-punk haven; basically all over the French Quarter is, she said. Continue reading »

Mar 252014

jewel bush

Less than three months passed between the arrest of George Junius Stinney Jr. and his execution. The whole Stinney trial took only one day – including jury selection.

The year was 1944 in Alcolu, a South Carolina town established by a lumber company in the late 19th century. All of the townsfolk worked for the mill; and in fact, were paid in metal coins emblazoned with the letter “A;” legal tender accepted at the company store to pay for everything from groceries to a doctor’s visit.

Stinney was 14 when he sat in the electric chair using the Bible he carried into the death chamber as a booster seat. From the looks of his mug shot, Stinney could have passed for as young as 12 when he was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder of two pre-teen white girls by an all-white jury in a town that was more than half black. Continue reading »

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Mar 182014
Glenn Ford. (photo by jewel bush)

Former death-row prisoner Glenn Ford was released from prison last week, and is transitioning back to society at the Resurrection After Exoneration program in New Orleans. (photo by jewel bush)

jewel bush

What do you say to someone who has spent 10,950 days — 3 decades and his last 30 birthdays — wondering if today would be the day he would be put to death for a crime he did not commit?

“They give you a $20 debit card and say, ‘I’ll be waiting on you,’ ” said John Thompson, who spent 18 years in prison, 14 of them on death row, wrongfully convicted of murder.

On March 11, Thompson welcomed home fellow exoneree Glenn Ford, Louisiana’s longest-serving death row prisoner. Ford was released from death row and exonerated after an informant told police that the real killer — one of the original suspects — confessed to the 1983 murder. Continue reading »

Mar 112014
Torence "Lil Boosie" Hatch speaks at a news conference Monday. (via

Torence “Lil Boosie” Hatch speaks at a news conference Monday. (via

jewel bush

The fanfare surrounding 31-year-old Torence “Lil Boosie” Hatch’s release from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola after a four-year sentence on drug charges has been surreal.

A video of his daughter, a wide-eyed girl in ponytails and bows, feverishly expressing her anticipation over her dad coming home went viral. The clip, sweet at heart, was highly problematic though, because of the little girl’s repeated and casual use of the N-word — and it embodies the contradictions in this whole story. Continue reading »

Feb 182014

jewel bush

As the celebrities and athletes who came to town to party during the NBA All-Star Weekend board planes heading back to their posh lives — after they Instagram images of themselves looking fabulous and doing fabulous things like eating beignets and shooting hoops with underprivileged youth — New Orleans remains as bloody as ever.
Continue reading »

Jan 282014

jewel bush

Standing somewhere in between the Blue Runners and Trappey’s Butter Beans, a woman in Rouses asked me had I heard that wind gusts were supposed to reach 100 mph.

I was in the supermarket, like everyone else, buying provisions for an intended few days spent home due to sleet, freezing rain; and hopefully, snow, but mostly what’s expected to be an icy mess of local roads and bridges.

But I hadn’t heard that. Continue reading »