Mother Tongue

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ANYONE WHO has known me since childhood remembers summers when my family would slip away, back to New Orleans — my mother’s birthplace and essentially my “other home.” It was family ritual.

This week, as part of a partnership between Zócalo Public Square and The Smithsonian, my essay “New Orleans Is My Second Language,” is part of the “What It Means to Be American“-series exploring identity, journeys and sense of place. I chose language and ritual which were both in many ways the bridge “back home,” not just for my mother, but now I’m realizing for me as well.

My grandfather, Frank Dixon Bowers, III in Jackson Square, New Orleans. Circa 1970s.

My grandfather, Frank Dixon Bowers, III in Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana. Circa 1970s.

top image via Plurale Tantum