Tuesday, September 2, 2008 9:45 AM
From: "Brother Reggie"
Indeed Art & Soul are one, but has the land of the Oaks won? It was so beautiful to see the people out in full force, surely a soul shock for those expecting violence. From our booth inside, I was able to see beautiful people of all ethnicities as one nation under the sun, enjoying many grooves. But there was much to be missed. While there was a kid zone, including a kid's stage and even a gigantic chess board (life size for most toddlers who don't understand how the game is played, the stage for Oakland's youth were the sidewalks.
There was no Hip-Hop stage. Although performers like Ise Lyfe, Zion I, and Hiero rocked the various sets, there was no unified stage for the youth culture. It would've been nice to see them all and the Kev Choice Assemble back-to-back- to-back under the banner of Oakland. But then again, Hip-Hop is alternative. It is world music. What am I saying? This wasn't an event being marketing for youth. There isn't anything in Oakland like that. I remember Carijama. I remember Festival at the Lake. While others have memories of the "handful of fools who messed it up," I reminisce the fun times under the sun. I recall the fun. I remember it was free. How is a single mother of three going to afford Art & Soul in Oakland? You've already spent $40 at the door. Not including food, rides and all. Because you were not sneaking any food in. Yet, and still, this event was not for the youth of Oakland. All weekend, I contemplated my watermelon purchase. For only one dollar you too could look like a mini-minstrel. I finally decided that I'd get over my fear of being stereotyped and enjoy some good fruit. It wasn't as sweet as I'd have liked, but it was still good.
And the police? Well, they integrated into the crowd. They didn't loiter on the outskirts as at Carijama, and I didn't see provoking folks as I have in the past. Yet and still, when I looked at all our beautiful folks outside just enjoying each other's energy, I couldn't help but recall the last Carijama. After it was brought downtown closer to the police station, the smell of teargas re-entered my lungs. The smell that brought tears to my eyes after the po-po threw tear gas onto Broadway to disperse us. Not knowing how many they would spark a revolutionary consciousness within. But the most revolutionary act on my mind was family. See, I saw my nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles at Art & Soul. Not to mention other potential family members.
The festival brought out the Bay Area's, and Oakland's, finest. Not the police. The princesses and queens of the Bay. I was reminded of how beautiful our people are. While many struggled in their male/female relations, I was in peak form. Conscious that I didn't come to Art & Soul to be a consumer of anything, I came to celebrate life and network. I met many sistas that reminded me why I stay in the Bay. In this day an age, a lot of people settle for less. I met a few sistas that were intelligent, fine, could cook, and build pyramids. But this aspect is important to me because of the trinity of man, woman and child. With all the dysfunctional depictions we see of our people and our families, I was witness to numerous outward examples of functional families. Father, mother and child. Mother, father, uncle and child. So many families were intact, together. Not broken and low as it is often suggested. The festival in the end does reflect the soul of Oakland, but that is only because we were there. For without us, there would be no art, no soul, and no Oakland.