Monday, September 9, 2013

Where Were All the White People This Weekend?

Act #252:  Come to the darker side. 

This weekend I attended two local festivals back to back:  the Japanese Summer Fest, celebrating Japanese tradition and culture and the Roots and Heritage Festival, a 25-year old event celebrating African-American culture and heritage.  Both were spirited and lively street festivals, well-attended, and overflowing with talented musical and dance performances.  Both provided tempting gastronomic experiences with options ranging from fresh sushi to West African stews.  Both had vendors, information booths, and an abundance of little kids running around with sticky fingers and snow cones.  

But while one crowd was noticeably made up primarily of Caucasians and Asians (about half and half), the other was almost completely African-American.  We walked from one festival to the other - that's how close in proximity they were.  There were crowds and crowds of white people at the Japanese Summer Fest, but I noticed that the handful of white people that I saw at the Roots and Heritage Festival were all "connected" to a black person in some way -  they were either a part of an interracial couple or had black children (or they were staffing a booth or representing an organization in the parade).   To be fair, I did not see a single Asian at the Roots and Heritage Festival (they were probably all at the Japanese Festival) and only a few blacks at the Japanese Festival (they were probably all at Roots and Heritage).  But the whites were clearly represented abundantly at one festival and barely noticeable at the other.  With a slew of fall festivals coming our way, I would encourage us to step outside our comfort zones a bit and walk a few blocks over to that other neighborhood.  I promise you, the snow cones are just as good, the music just as vibrant, the patrons just as giddy about celebrating community in the streets.

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