Saturday, 13 April 2013

voluntary segregation

today was my first attempt at live tweeting, from the nzei rally in hamilton.  it was great to about supporting teachers & fighting for our education system.  the march and rally were really well attended in hamilton, and from what i saw on social media, it was the same across the country.  you can find out more about the campaign here.

in the afternoon, i was at the nesian festival at garden place.  there were food & craft stalls, & performances by groups from the samoan, tongan, kiribati, & fijan communities, while i was there.  we even had a great pasifika elvis impersonator!

but i noticed that the crowd was almost all brown faces.  it was a very similar situation with the waitangi day celebrations that used to be held at innes common by the lake in past years: great event, great attendance, but a real lack of white people.  of course there would be the usual local politicians in attendance, who came out of civic duty & probably because they are better informed about such events & many do enjoy them.

there are usually a committed group of white people who work with ethnic communities or are connected to them in other ways, and they also come to these events, generally with a great sense of enjoyment.

but other than that, there is a real segregation.  brown people go to events that are designated as being for them - such as the nesian festival & waitangi day, and white people don't.  it would be interesting to find out why - is it because the events are advertised widely enough, because they aren't seen as relevant, because they aren't perceived as welcoming?  perhaps this is a hamilton thing, and the same kind of segregation isn't seen in other cities.

whatever the reason, it saddens me.  because if we can't even share each other's cultural festivals, then how do we build that social cohesion and sense of belonging?  i don't expect that there is going to be a whole lot of learning happening at an event like this, mostly because there is no scope for discussion & debate, no presentation of different cultural perspectives & values.  it's all about food, commerce & dance, which tends to be a superficial interaction.  but it's certainly better than no interaction at all, and it's a start towards learning to appreciate diversity.


stargazer said...

I posted a comment but apparently I have to be a 'blogger on blog' to get it published. Anyhoo, what I was said was that I have been ranting about Diwali and Lantern for years now. There are some white people but for the food and exotica. Who cares about or wants to know the Chinese/Indian Kiwi? If you can find out the kaupapa of the festival then you might be able to analyse the absence of pakeha. Diwali and Lantern are ostensibly about culture but look deep and you will see it is about commerce and free trade. And it is organised from the top not by the community or in consultation with the community. It makes me bloody mad when Indian culture is equated to bawdy Bollywood dancing and young girls doing pelvic thrusts at disinterested audience (apart from their mums and perverts). How many go home knowing more about India/China/local communities? Same with the Auckland Intercultural Festival. Food, music, one football match. Same people every year but how many attendees care about refugee issues? Funding for such festivals is subject to footfalls and not any other measured outcome. Even the pakeha organisers many times don't know the culture of the people they are presenting :-) Maybe with you in council there will be some questions asked.

Sapna (posted with her permission, via facebook)

Sal Dawson said...

Went to a festival here, music/food/cars, all white faces, all the same.

Not exactly a melting pot.

Kiwis are pretty tribal in the end.