The 2016 Veterans Day weekend was the first time I’ve ever attended the annual Tampa Greek Festival. The south Tampa event has been a community staple for more than three decades. As a resident of the bay area for almost as long, the knowledge-nut side of me decided to go check it out. Shortly after leaving I realized that there was one prominent lesson that stuck; that of clannish alienation.
How could a culture (any, mind you) migrate to a land called America and not expect to be interspersed with others around it? I found my Greek festival experience to baffling.
No….there were not any baklava and gyro indulgences. I was way too perplexed for that.
For a church sponsored event I was quite shocked that the only dark faces on site were those belonging to Tampa police officers and the ride operators. Really? 😶 Also to my surprise was the cold reception by a people that not only are “church-goers,” but those who’s ancestry originated so geographically (and relatively) close to the Dark Continent of Africa.
My presence was obviously not welcomed.
Again, I was thirsty for the education. After all, I have always been fascinated with Mediterranean culture. The up close and personal experience with the various art, clothing, and jewelry left a deep impression, too. I was just too enthralled to allow my attitude to get soured. I am observational, nonetheless.
Above all, however, I was able to keep my dark chin high, look content, interested, and gain some newfound insight on their depictions of Jesus Christ, Saint John The Baptist, Lucifer, angels, and others.
Though witnessing the stained glass and artistic walls of their church was delightful, the icy reception of an African man (attempting to educate himself of THEIR culture) was not.
I did, however, visit the Tampa Greek Festival for the sole intent to learn something new that day, and I am satisfied.
It also caused me to realize that many different descents are guilty of this same cliquey behavior…think Little Haiti in Miami or China Town in Los Angeles, for example.
Why do we tend to do this?
Your diversified thoughts are welcome. Oh, I managed to capture this video of inside the church.