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Black Swamp Festival

For my event I attended the Black Swamp Arts Festival back in September. This festival was over a whole weekend and it was filled with eclectic styles of art and music. Walking through the festival and seeing the different booths made me feel like I was in a whole new world sometimes. The art was gorgeous, some of it was funny and amusing, and others were moving and were very deep. The musical portion of the weekend is where I found my most memorable events that I believe related to this class in particular.

I saw two very different musical performances, one was the modern jazz pair called GINKGOA, and the second was the female mariachi band called MARIACHI FLOR DE TOLOACHE. Both were culturally diverse performances both within the group and within the audience itself. GINKGOA was an extremely interesting performance and their music was very up beat and exciting. This couple is made up of a white male performer and the lead singer who is a black female. This relates to our class topics on race and how race is socially constructed.

Within this group and their audience separation between races seemed to be completely nonexistent. Some people in our nation still believe that blacks and whites should not be allowed to marry each other or be in relationships with each other in any way. This is a complete travesty and this performance really hit home with me that people who think that need to realize that skin color and race do not separate or make one person better or worse than another. In fact the mixture of races and ethnicities can potentially create shocking and amazing outcomes.

If a multiracial couple, coming from different childhood, family, and ethnic backgrounds can make beautiful music then just imagine what all the others can accomplish as well. I saw an advertisement recently relating to this topic. It was a crowd of people of all different ages, races, sexual orientation, and gender standing in a city as an audience and there was a huge x-ray wall in front of them. Behind the wall they could see the skeletons of people dancing, playing, and even kissing. Then the people from behind the wall would step out and it was either two women, or two men, or one of the persons could have had a disability.

But the last one was two people of different races which was followed by a phrase stating that love knows no race, love is not bound by race. But, I firmly believe this can relate to everything and I saw evidence here. Music knows no race, art knows no race, and people can be brought together through their enjoyment and creation of both. The audience was also much intermingled as well. There were people of all races sitting and standing watching the performance. Complete strangers of different races came up to me and I went up to them to discuss the performance and compliment the group. Music and other art forms are very unifying.

No matter what your race or skin color I completely believe that music can bring people together under any circumstances. The second performance I attended over the weekend was the MARIACHI FLOR DE TOLOACHE, which as I had stated before was made up of all females only, they are the only mariachi band in the world that is like this. Flor de Toloache translates literally to flower of Toloache which is a flower that in Mexico is used for making love potions. I can see why they are called this because their mariachi band music put me in a trance, or maybe it was the beautiful Latin women, still to be decided.

When they introduced themselves I was shocked to be told that they were not all Mexican. From my previous experiences and knowledge of mariachi bands first of all I am used to seeing all men and I fully believed they were all Mexican. But these women were from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Australia, Columbia, Germany, Italy and the United States. This is just further evidence to support my previous point that art, especially in the form of music, can bring people of all types of racial and culturally ethnic diverse backgrounds together as one.

I could tell that I was not the only one in the audience that was shocked about the fact that the mariachi band was all women. This is at fault to our own ignorance and only believing what we see on tv and in the media. In my personal opinion I always believed that Mexican women were supposed to stay in more and care for the children of the household and the men of the family were the ones to go out and make the money to come home to dinner prepared by the wife. This performance made me realize house stupidly ignorant I was, and it takes a lot for me to admit that sometimes.

Latin American women are tremendously hardworking, talented, and independent women, as are all women of the world if they so choose. The audience was largely Latin American with a few other people sprinkled in, like me for example. It almost made me feel like I was out of place at first or I was somewhere where I wasn’t supposed to be. But once I settled in to the environment I realized I was false once again. I stood in the back in front of a few older Mexican guys, and throughout the performance we began chatting about how they themselves had never seen a female mariachi band either.

But, they said they could not tell by the way they played, they were just as traditional as a male band. The Black Swamp weekend was an eye opening experience for me. The two performances, GINKGO and MARIACHI FLOR DE TOLOACHE, were extremely fascinating, fun, and inspirational. I learned that no matter what race, gender, or ethnicity all people can be brought together though a common love or passion. The mixture of cultures and races of people I met helped me to step out of my comfort zone and opened my mind up to what my previously Americanized brain had kept me from being able to learn and observe.

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