Monday, August 21, 2006

new glasses

i'm wondering if my dissatisfaction with unity day yesterday was all on my end - as if i'm looking at things with a different set of glasses - or if it really was wack this year.

i've been going to unity day off and on since i was a little kid. the city of philadelphia clears the benjamin franklin parkway (site of live 8, the million woman march, and countless other gatherings) and philly's oldest FM station for black music holds a gathering called unity day. i've been back in the area for almost a year and a half, and i remember going last year - in fact, i even blogged about it and what a good time i had. but this year? i coulda had a V8.

the parkway is generally filled with vendors in between a handful of music stages - an R&B stage, a gospel stage, a main stage. the vendors sell all kinds of food, jewelry, books, art, clothing, and african wares like raw shea butter, wooden instruments like drums and kalimbas and shaking gourds, and fabrics. to their credit, there are also booths about healthcare, housing, and community activism, among other positive things. it is definitely my kind of thing - i used to like to go to people watch and check out the marketplace.

but this year, i just didn't have the patience with the crowds, first of all. the lines for the food were so long that weren't even worth getting in. the food lines extended all the way into the middle of where everyone was trying to walk and get by, so noone was walking. instead, everyone was just creeping, half step by half step. and i'll tell you who frustrated me the most - mothers with strollers. having your child down there in that stroller is a sure way to have that child bombarded with all kinds of bags as people shuffle by in the crowd. plus, those heifers run all over everybody's feet and trip people in the wheels. and they expect you to defer to them because they have children in a stroller - they should either be carrying those babies in one of those little baby backpacks or be leaving them with grandma or something. i saw too many women dragging little two to five-year-old kids around in that crowd, in that heat, under that sun, and felt sorry for the kids. it's too much for some of them.

then i really started to have my shame-on-me-i'm-a-self-righteous-heffa moments. the first one was when i walked into a book booth, attracted by the "book sale, $5.00" signs, and encountered one of my pet peeves: you guessed it, ghetto fiction. i mean, all of it! and there were my people, scrambling in the crowded booth, handing over bills and bills for that unimaginative garbage to make their minds spin in place. and no, i didn't want any souvenir t-shirts, or giveaways from the local crappy hip-hop station, or posters.

another such shameful moment was when i started fighting the urge to go up to children and ask them where their mothers were and if they knew they were dressed like that in public. i mean, unity day is a family gathering. i didn't fear for the girls' safety. but i was still disturbed by what they had on and what their mentality was - innocently naive, or just fast and grown? either way, some of those girls needed some more damn clothes on. yeah, i said it. but i knew better than to take that up with them, 'cause i'da got arrested for fighting somebody's insolent smart-mouthed child. i just know it.

another thing that made me angry was the ridiculous commercialism there. cars and motorcycles all over the place. ridiculous and typical sponsors all over the place. like we need to be spending our (usually ill-spent but heavily coveted) disposable income on a har.ley, or contributing to the hypertension and heart disease statistics by eating more fried chicken. i guess the organizers had to get what sponsors they could, and being responsible wasn't much of a factor. i'm not saying that we don't have the willpower to say no to ads, but i just feel like taking the money was like taking dirty money...

with the exception of watching children playing with the water plugs or doing what children do, i wasn't entertained. i really just wasn't. i was actually happy to leave. i'll probably be back next year, optimism back in effect, but for now, i'm thinking that once a year is enough!