This year on the Fourth of July, Sacramento celebrated its first Interdependence Day. The idea was to celebrate July 4th by celebrating “equity and inclusion,” two concepts I am ALL ABOUT. So off we went to Southside Park in Midtown Sacramento.
As a day of celebrating equity and inclusion, this was not what I’d call an effective event. It was mostly a mix of New Age and Eastern Philosophy inspired booths and practitioners. There was a shortage of booths focused on registering voters, disseminating postcard for people to write on about fair and affordable housing, protecting health care access, protecting the rights of immigrants, and other practical interests that disproportionately affect people of color. On the other hand, I had multiple opportunities to buy items the “Om” symbol on them.
On the other hand, as a self-care day, I couldn’t ask for better. I had a free chair massage and walked a labyrinth made of tape. I danced onstage with a funk band. Speakers recited poetry about the Muslim Ban while a group of women did singing therapy (you lie down and they sing over you). Once The Midnight Players kicked in, people danced on the dance floor. A group of old ladies waved their arms under a tree and a group of belly dancers shimmied under another tree. I started the day with one kid, acquired two more, lost both of them, and eventually regained the one I had started with (this is the math of parenting teens, who practice self-care by ditching their parents and running all over the park while laughing maniacally).
The Interdependence Day Festival represented the worst and the best of middle-class liberalism in Sacramento. There was a lot of cultural appropriation as well as some cultural appreciation and a lot of grey area in between. There was a focus on reading chakras and animal oracle cards instead of providing practical assistance and advocacy. Most of the attendees and vendors were white, although the longer the event went on the more diverse the attendance became.
However, this festival represented something Sacramento is very good at, which is a specific kind of joy. As the day went on, the event became much more racially diverse, and everyone seemed happy and relaxed. We have a lot of parks and a lot of trees and during the summer there are outdoor movies and concerts in almost all of them, not to mention the year-round farmer’s markets. Any outdoor event involves toddlers and dogs. There will always be at least one barefoot twenty-year-old and at least one barefoot seventy-five year-old dancing to the same music. Middle-aged moms shake their bootys while teens congregate in corners and check their phones. Someone is wearing tie dye, someone is blowing bubbles, and someone is selling gelato or ices.
As an atheopagan/skeptic/hippie, I’m always going to have a weird reaction to the trappings of the New Age world, but I can’t deny that the chair massage I had was heavenly. As a white progressive who spends a lot of time online, I think all these white people reading chakras is problematic but the Mandala that people took turns creating sure is beautiful. I have no idea what people of color make of all this, but everyone seemed to be smiling.
Bottom line – this is late news as the Fourth has come and gone, but basically I’d much rather spend the next Fourth at the next Interdependence Festival instead of at anything involving eagles and beer (unless it involves live eagles – that would be cool). But next year, I’ll bring some postcards.