Friday, September 26, 2014

Louisiana: New Iberia: The White Sugar Festival

I was scoping the horizon for things to do this weekend and found the Sugar Cane Festival in New Iberia. Woohoo! Ever since I arrived in South Louisiana last November, I'd wanted to be sure and go to this festival.

Excited, I checked out the bands that were to perform.

Oh. That's odd. Most often, South Louisiana festivals feature a mix of regional music: Cajun or Creole, zydeco, swamp pop, and the occasional oldies cover band. Even venues that highlight only one band at a time tend to rotate the genres.

I don't subscribe to the idea of "black music" or "white music." There's no such thing. (As a friend from another country once said, "people confuse culture with color.") Nevertheless, as I looked at the music line-up for the Sugar Cane Festival, I noticed it was firmly homogenous.

But you decide for yourself:
  • Taken Back Yesterday. Rock 'n roll cover band. 
  • Spank the Monkey. Rock 'n roll.
  • Louisiana Red. Cover band - many genres.
  • Wayne Toups. "Zydecajun."
  • Bad Boys. "Variety and dance band"
  • The Vermilion. unknown.
  • Debbie Deb.
  • Chee Whiz. "Kiss" cover band.

I can't find images for the Bad Boys or The Vermilion. I don't see the members of Wayne Toups' band. Of the bands where I can see their members, I see one black musician.

The city of New Iberia is 53% white and 42% black. Louisiana at large is 63% white and 32% black.

I perceived an exclusionary subtext in the musical line-up.

Is perception reality? No, of course not. But as they say, "perception is everything." And as I dug deeper to see if I was jumping too early to conclusions, I discovered there is a history of bad feelings surrounding this festival in the New Iberia community. 

Based on my perceptions, I made a decision not to attend this festival.

No comments: