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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Blanc Bumbershoot

Posted by on September 5 at 10:26 AM

From this image, which is on the website for Bumbershoot, I draw this question: Why do blacks not attend the festival?
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There are lots of black acts and yet very few blacks in the audience. Are the black acts not black enough? Are the programmers clueless about black tastes in the arts and focus only on what they know, white tastes? Or is the festival too expensive? If one argues that because the number of blacks in the city is low, they are effectively drowned out by the sea of whites at the festival, I would argue that at the Seafair’s Torchlight Parade, which happens in July, the sea of white people doesn’t drown out the sea of black people. Blacks go to the parade but not the festival. Bumbershoot is essentially a white celebration.

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well...the seafair parade is free and they throw candy out and it's for the kids. Bumbershoot is not free and you have to buy the candy and it's not really for the kids. Also the white people in this city have a tendency to believe that this city is uber diverse and they want to show that they can get down too.

Seattle is very racist. Only white northern european males go to Bumbershoot because blacks do not feel welcome there.

I'm no scientist, but I'm not sure that photo qualifies as a statistically accurate survey of the ethnicity of Bumbershoot attendees.

Obviously, the reason why black people aren't coming to Bumbershoot is because of the "NO BLACKS ALLOWED" signs at all of the gates, and the security being provided by the KKK.

But there is the separate but equal "Black Bumbershoot", which is located in the back half of Boeing parking lot 34,5678 down in Auburn or Kent or somewhere. They have a water spigot, a portapotty, and a very powerful boombox, even if the one speaker doesn't work, and you have to bring your own music. I'm suprised you didn't know about it, Charles.

were you even at this show Charles? Here's a better question - why did the Stranger writers only review white artists? (aside from Sharon Jones). With all the hip hop at the festival, why were your hip, progressive music writers only seeing white indie and classic rock? Seems The Stranger is essentially a white paper (geared to a 30-50 year old white male readership making around $50k plus per year, as per the advertising demos you put out).

While I completely disagreed with Charles's writeup on Kanye vs. ATCQ, and while I think this entry is a bit baiting for the paper as a whole, Charles has a point.

I don't think this entry is implying any sort of racism, anymore than, say, stating that a NASCAR event in this state would be a "white celebration" -- not to be confused with "a celebration of whiteness", so yeah very careful wording there. But yes, certain types of entermainment events can attract a lot more of one type of ethnicity than another. Go figure.

Charles asks a decent question here. We have two headlining nights by black artists that have large black followings who didn't choose to go to check them out at Bumbershoot... whereas the same day-pass price would be the same for, say, a Ludacris show at the Showbox or the Premier, with more black people in attendance.

The only thing that's sorely missing is Charles, who hopefully had the opportunity or time, asking some of the few black attendees at Memorial Stadium such a question after the shows in question. Why?

Looking back at recent previous Bumbershoot line-ups, with the exception of this year's, they are pretty much lily white rock line-ups -- which is why I really enjoyed this year's festival. It was finally a break from the usual mega-white-rock-band deal. (I don't know enough about Bumbershoot pre-2000, I'll admit.) Go figure, it's one of the best selling Bumbershoots in recent years, but still very, very high in the white people factor.

Again, I wish there were actual testomonials about this question from attendees, as opposed to just posting "Blanc Bumbershoot" Great idea for a piece, but too bad it will probably be left as merely a question and comment-baiter.


Have you asked any non-attending black people why they didn't go to bumbershoot? No?

I do realize your usual approach is to assign meaning to events and bodies according to preestablished principles, but every once in a while, it might behoove you to engage in the strange sort of behavior you sometimes see the other full-time paid employees at The Stranger pursuing— that is, telling interns to pick up a "telephone" (there may be one on your desk, under the pretty cobweb sculpture on the corner) and obtain some facts for the editors* to add to their carefully constructed prose as a meager offering to that cardboard god named "journalism" you've got tacked to the wall.

Alternately, I suppose you could just sit there and wait for Seattle's black people to leave you comments on an internet message board.

* A quick review of the masthead shows that you, as well as most of the other paid, full-time writers for The Stranger, bear the curious title "editor." Somewhat astonishingly, there are no employees at all on theat masthead bearing the once-proud title of "reporter."

Charles, in case you haven't yet noticed, the city of Seattle is essentially a white celebration.

most of the black people I know think that kanye west is a pompous asshole who thinks he's jesus and therefore would not pay money to see him perform. Although, I kind of am starting to think he IS jesus because he actually made it rain for the just the few minutes that he sang "jesus walks." It was spooky.

Well, here we go again. So to be politically correct in Seattle, we now have to: 1) Have a Black Bumbershoot (oh wait -- I DO have a black bumbrshoot and it's in the hallway by the door!) or 2) we need to ban Bumbershoot altogether so we can all be politically correct and miserable together as we sing Kumbaya down in Pioneer Square at night or 3) we need to give black people free admission so Seattle can show them how white we are. So what are your going to do when whites become the minority by 2010? More to the point: Was this topic really even worth writing about?

And before you make assumptions and scream racist, I'm Asian-American; I - and my now-adult kids as well - continue to go to Bumbershoot every so many years when the lineup is good. We've NEVER, EVER felt uninvited or uncomfortable at any time despite all the security guards walking around in Nazi boots and KKK sheets (Ha Ha).

there were black people there, we were just smart enough to not stand right in the front. someone might have stepped on our shoes and there would have been hell to pay. we were farther back in the crowd, keeping the peace.

Good questions Charles. I have been a yearly attendee to Bumbershoot, and have never been disapointed, not only by the range and diversity of acts, some of which have included, Cafetacuba from Mexico, Beck, De la, Mos Def, Pharcyde Roost, Public Enemy, NAS, and so many other great acts, including legends from the B-Boying days.

The only 2 shows that I have ever seen good attendance from the black community has been the Gap Band, Funkadelics, and NAS, and some for DE LA other than that I have seen just a few.

From what I see and hear from friends, not many even know that Bumbershoot has good acts, a lot of friends did not know that Tribe was at Bumbershoot. I am not really sure how many people in da hood read Larry's excellent column in the Stranger. I think the perception might be that its a hippie thing and I gotta tell you the noodle dancing during the drum circle is some scary ass shit.

Latinos also are small in numbers for hip hop shows, but I did see big numbers for Plastelina Mush and Cafetacuba as well as for De La.

Im not really sure what the answer to that question is. Perhaps is time for you Mudede and Larry to start your own paper and make sure that it gets distributed to Skyway, Renton and Federal Way, the new hood. Just a thought.

That should be Roots and not Roost.


That should also be "Plastilina Mosh" not "Plastelina Mush," "Café Tacuba" not "Cafetacuba," and "Funkadelic," not "Funkadelics."

I'll give you a pass on the acts you abbreviated.

Regardless, they kicked ass.

The Stranger's readership is 77.5% white non-hispanic.

In comparison, the city of Seattle is 66.5% white non-hispanic.

Maybe, Charles, you and the Stranger should be pointing the spotlight at yourselves.

It couldn't be that the tickets were $30 a day and there just weren't that many artist, of any color, worth spending that kind of money.

$30 a day is soooo... cheap. In Manhattan you'd pay more for just for parking let alone a show. Everyone told me how cheap the entertainment and food is here, and it's true. Too bad the "natives" don't know a good thing when it's staring them in the face.

manhattan: i think, based on the attendance, folks know a good thing here! i think bumbershoot is a pretty damn good deal too. it's not just music...i saw some cool film, art, dance...

You can easily spend 30 bucks to see Q- Tip and ATCQ alone, and regardless of wether You like him or not, Kanye West is definitely a 30 buck caliber artist. Besides, the tickets were a lot cheaper if you bought them ahead of time. Price does not explain it. The more I think about it, I think the prob is with out-reach and the lack of promotion in alternative media of color.

As far as I can tell about 50% of hip hop is about sustaining as ideological stance as "the other." So maybe it's because black Americans are just a tiny tiny nano bit racist themselves, and don't like hanging out with whites and asians? As in:

Lordamitey, white Seattleites have to be the least racist majority group in the history of civilization. Come one, who are less racist than white Seattleites? I want to know who. Tell me!

Because blacks don't want to pay $30 to wade through and stand in line with thousands of ignorant ass honkies for hours just to see a black act.

Maybe black people don't go to Bumbershoot because they know it sucks. As opposed to vapid cheerleaders like Seme, the real people who went to Bumbershoot in the 80's & early 90's, as well as the Puget Sound black population know that Bumbershoot is a lame piece of over-priced, over-controlled crap. I remember coming down one summer eve and seeing a HUGE crowd of black folks charging into the Colisseum. I figured something was up, so I followed them and found myself grooving to George Clinton in one of the greatest concerts I'd ever seen.

Maybe what you are seeing is the result of the assumptions you've taken on.

$30 for Kanye West? Nigga, I got kids to feed.

I saw Tribe though.

Queequeg, that must have been 30 years ago. George Clinton hasn't been popular with black audiences for a long time.

Black people don't attend Bumbershoot because of several reasons...

1. AFAIK black people who live in this area generally don't like white people. And they like them even less in large numbers, drunk, stoned, and dancing off beat. That is, unless they are actively dating a white person, high on crack, or just plain weird. Then they like them plenty. ;)

2. Black people who live in this area aren't making enough money to waste on old defunct hip-hop acts (A Tribe Called Quest) or new acts that don't actively push the crunk hip hop agenda / aren't ghetto enough (Kanye West, Blue Scholars, Common Market).

3. Black people who live in this area have better things to do on Labor Day. Like attend family barbecues. Or work.

4. Black people, in general, have a great deal of disdain for musical acts that have highly visible non-white members (that covers almost all the acts @ Bumbershoot including a fair share of the hip-hop acts). Maybe locals have been slightly more conditioned to have different tastes but I don't know a lot of black folks here or elsewhere who boast about how "culturally diverse" their music collection is. They aren't bragging about owning Jamie Lidell, Eminem, Vanilla Ice, or Atmosphere. If there's no melanin they tune out.

5. Black people, in general, have abandoned the following musical genres due to the fact they are now overrun by white audiences & music industry marketing mavens: jazz, rock, house, and blues. Unless something changes soon hip-hop will be abaonded next. Why pay to hear something we don't care about anymore?

I did see some of my bretheren out there this year though. All of us fall into one of these categories

* Black men lenny kravitz wannabes who wear dreadlocks and only date white girls.

* Black women who think they are Valley Girls and only date white guys.

* Weird counterculture black guys who bring their weird counterculture black girlfriends / boyfriends / wives / husbands / whatever with them.

* Black people who have been soundly rejected by other black people for any variety of cultural missteps that resulted in the revocation of their Ghetto Pass (all other's above may also qualify under this heading as well).

My guess is that it has something to do with who's got too much good taste in music to find time for Bumbershoot's increasingly vanilla offerings?

When you start charging more than $20 for a day, you start shutting out the very youth who are responsible for the newest music... and who create new culture. And you start drawing more ooompah fans.

The exponential curve that fits B'shoot's ticket-price suggests suicidal tendencies; it's about as relevent to wassup as EMP.

You crackas are a handful enough sober!

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