"Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures."
A wonderful event took plan on February 22, 2014. Korea had a first. Its first Black History Month Festival. It was held in downtown Daegu, where I live. POC came from all over Korea to witness and be part of the festival. To be honest, I did not even know that that many black people lived in Daegu. We came out in droves. The event was sponsored by the US Embassy and the city of Daegu.
The interesting thing is how many Korean people took part in the festival as performers, demonstrating the black influence of their current music and dance culture. There was African drumming, HipHop, Krumping, B-boying, Locking, Gospel singing, Praise Dancing, Cuban Salsa, Stepping, R&B, Rapping, Spoken Word. And at the end, someone decided to play The Wobble and everyone got on stage - Black, White, Indian, Korean - and started getting down. I joined in too.
What really moved me to tears was the amount of older Korean people, some who did not sit down for the entire two hours and just watched, clapped, and moved their heads to the performances. Someone decided to post on the Facebook page for the event asking why Korea needed this festival and that it was weird. There were many posts that criticized the organizers and were just plain mean. Below is the response to that ignorant person. It came with the picture.
"This will be my last update about the Black History Month Festival we hosted in Daegu! While promoting the event on Facebook, a guy commented “Why are they celebrating Black history in Korea...thats weird.” Well this is why: From start to finish, this elderly man (who had no seat and the worst view from the back of the stage) watched the whole 2 and a half hour concert. He clapped and cheered to every song and dance, never turning his eyes away. After it was over, he approached one of the hosts and said that the dancers reminded him of his days as a dancer when he was young. He said he was so happy Korea was embracing and celebrating cultures beyond their borders and that if he is alive next year, he would love to perform somehow. So to the hater who left that comment, that's why we celebrate black history in Korea."
Koreans dedicate themselves to preserving Korean culture. This has a lot to do with the Japanese occupation, in which they could not use Korean names, etc. A lot of the times, preserving Korean culture has meant consciously or subconsciously excluding others, which is ignorant. Although, many POC feel slighted or discriminated against because of the color of their skin here in Korea, there are moments when you must admit that "it has to be ignorance and not just pure hate". There was a realization, at least for me, that building Blasian Bridges are easy; we can draw parallels between each other's music, dark pasts, etc. The difficult part is crossing that bridge. Admitting to yourself that you can learn a thing or two from someone completely different from you; that your love for something whether it be God, spicy food, dance, or music can be shared by people that you thought you'd never interact with is hard. I am not naive enough to think that all is well in Korea now between Blacks and Koreans or that Koreans are now all embracing of us, but in Daegu last Saturday many took the first steps across the bridge and it was a beautiful thing.
|These hoodies were worn by the organizers and MCs of the event.|
Until Next Time Good People.