La Poussiere means “the dust.” The dance hall by this name in Breaux Bridge, LA was so named because the original floor was dirt, so when Cajuns danced a jig, the dust would fly.
Geno Delafose and the French Rocking Boogie sing a song entitled “She Makes the Dust Fly.”
Last night, my husband and I were Zydeco dancing to Geno at La Poussiere.
Twenty years ago, Geno would not have been welcome in La Poussiere. There were strict unwritten rules against black people entering the club. In 1996, The New York Times featured an article about a lawsuit that required La Poussiere to drop its policy and open its doors to black patrons, even on Saturday night. Comments from locals stated that this was the way it’s always been. There was an undercurrent of acceptance of racial discrimination. However, as Breaux Bridge became more of a tourist area, these traditions came in to question.
Today, blacks and whites not only dance at La Poussiere, they often dance together. The cultures are becoming mixed and more accepting. Last night, there was a Cajun man playing the triangle on stage with the all black band.
Yesterday, my friend Tara Smith posted about addressing civil rights issues with her students. She teaches in an affluent, mostly white area. She said, “As I have found in years past, none of my students had ever heard of Emmett Till, a boy not much older than they are, who lost his life to hatred and racism. Few history text books seem to mention Emmett Till, and we can now add the names of Travon Martin and Tamir Rice (to name just two) to our country’s long legacy of racism and the heartbreaking violence it breeds. But, teaching history demands that we seek the truth so that we can do better.”
Teaching demands that we do better. We all need to do better. We need to look at our neighbors as persons worthy of respect and honor whether we are dancing, having a meal, going to church, or driving on the highway.
Dancing and music are great equalizers. We are all comrades enjoying the parade. Turn up the music, hear the beat, and remember always, always to be kind.