Thursday, August 14, 2008

There are black people on Bainbridge - really!

People started gathering in the waterfront park as David and I played tennis last night, smoothing blankets over the grass, opening lawn chairs, diving into picnic baskets. It was Wednesday: concert night. I was about to volley a shot over the net when I froze. Deep, booming, soulful voices burst in perfect acapella from the boat-shaped stage.

"Lean on me, when you're not strong!" The harmony shook my soul and sent joyful vibrations up my spine. I actually ran to the chains on the side of the court and jumped on them to get a better look.

"And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on."

Four black men in fancy suits stood on the stage, one of them in purple with a matching fedora. I saw the sweat glisten on their bald heads as they belted out the beat, no instruments necessary. It was INCREDIBLE.

"For, it won't be long, till I'm gonna need, somebody to lean on."

I feel that different cultures are what brings us together as humans, and that is what I miss on Bainbridge Island. This is a very white community, everyone fitting the same demographic. How can we learn when everyone is the same?

I've always been one to explore different cultures. In high school, I advocated for a black history class until they put it on the curriculum. I was in the multicultural club and hung out with a table-full of Asians all speaking a foreign language. I was the one who talked in Spanish to all the Mexicans in "C" hall who everyone else was afraid of.

I took African drumming classes, and learned to play the Native American Cedar flute. I also learned some Celtic dance steps, and salsa of course.

I thoroughly enjoyed that concert at the park last night, where a little bit of culture forced its way onto Bainbridge Island. I loved seeing the adults and children in the crowd, moving with the beat, clapping their hands. We can all lean on each other, no matter what race.


McJumpguez said...

Isaiah and I were having a similar discussion in the car last week. I believe cultures comes from the family you were raised from, then are influenced by the area you live in. Even though my family is Mexican, I was raised in the United States, I have A LOT of mexicanisms (or traditions) not found in the US, and visa versa. Isaiah grew up as a hippie in Eugene (and has since rebelled) but that was his culture. So even though we were raised in the same "American" state (Oregon) we have different cultures influenced by and through our families.
The reason Washington and Oregon are so white is because of their history of exclusion of African-Americans. Sad but true. I don't even notice the fact that I'm surrounded by white people because I always have been. But I do think it would have been better for me to have been exposed to many Americans of all colors. Now that I think about it though, the apartments we lived in had many immigrants: Iranian, Egyptian, Vietnamese . . . So I guess that's where I got my cultural understanding, perhaps. But yes, I advocate history and tons of it. Oh and actually, we were just speaking about history last night and how people never teach you about the parallels of history on a global level . . . But my post just got super long. Sorry.

Kristin said...

Your post isn't too long at all, I like hearing what people think about this. It is pretty incredible that so many cultures exist, and people don't even have to be different races. Like you were saying, in one state, people of the same race can have entirely different cultures. I think variety is the spice of life, and its fun to interact with a lot of different cultures.

Travis said...

White America had better get used to it...because the latest census projections have whites losing the majority status by 2042.

That's in our lifetime.

I say celebrate our cultural differences and live together as global citizens.

Colleen said...

You go girl! I love it!

Dan-Eric Slocum said...

I remember racism as a very real part of my childhood culture. There was a section of Lubbock, TX called N-town. Only the whole name. And it was just called that routinely.

This was 40-plus years ago and I remember thinking at the time. WTF?

I've never, ever understood hatred, of any kind.

Sue said...

When I first moved here from Alaska to go to college I was in SHOCK at all the other races here! I thought it was so amazing. I'd only seen white people, Native Americans, filipinos and we only had one 'black guy' in high school. After college I moved to Texas and experienced racism for the first time when someone mocked me through their car window, making a slant-eyed, buck-toothed Asian face at me. I was completely shocked and didn't even know what to do. Then I was PISSED. That was in 2004.