Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dia de Los Muertos

Ever since I attended the Day of the Dead celebration at Hollywood Forever cemetery two years back, I've been meaning to actually participate with facepaint.  I had it written all over my moleskin to do this and was thrilled to learn that Grand Park was hosting a free event with free facepaint.

No one seemed interested that day, so I went on my own.  I suppressed my extrovert anxiety and told myself that nothing should stop me from doing things that I want to do... not even the lack of company.  I stood inline for a hour to get my facepainted and absorbed the hordes of families gathering around.

Phil reached out, declaring that he also wanted to get his facepainted and rushed over from across town.  That's us before and after, my adorable makeup artist and me trying to sip through a straw.  To my rescue!  I was so lonely.  My artist did a great job.  Gave me teeth and gave me the wispy lines I requested.

Our friend David was actually MCing the event.  He looks amazing.

A lot of my friends are ethnic study specialists, activists, angry asian people - posts about white privilege and appropriating culture flood my blog feed.  Especially during Halloween when many poor costume choices are made... many in poor taste.

My quick opinion on that is avoid tragedy.  Geishas, Native American Headdress, Sombreros don't offend me...  they make me laugh as they are intended because they are ridiculous.  But 9/11 costumes, Terrorist costumes, Asiana Crash costumes and Trevon costumes are all in poor taste because it makes fun of terrible events.  Ignorance.

Anyway, I'm curious to how the Latin community feels about my costume top hat and my enthusiasm to be a part of a culture that is not my own.  Do they really care?  At least as much as my friends.

I turned to facebook and no one really cared because it wasn't their culture I was referring to.  The only response with thought - "u ask urself if it's a tribute and/or celebration of the day or an excuse to dress up and party."  The answer is both.

All of this sensitivity really takes away from the event.  I'm here as a guest.  I'd like to participate.  I will never be a part of your group, but thank you for letting me join for the day.  And let's leave it at that.

Food trucks and live music.  It was wonderful.  A live performance of California Love with a Spanish beat can be found on my instagram.

Sean called me to cross the bridge to East LA.  There was a real celebration that "I would love."  An event for the people, by the people.  The Grand Park event was more watered down and accessible.  But the grit and grime was over the 1st street bridge about a mile away.  So we made our way over.  We acknowledged the cars that noticed our facepaint.  I made eye contact with some Latin boys in a car and did a wasup head nod which they reciprocated.  It was that gesture that made me feel that I was welcomed.  I felt like I was having an Eat Pray Love moment....  I was a white girl in a strange foreign land, OH the Souvenirs I must purchase and the pictures of the interesting locals I must take!

Other events were happening that night, resulting in a full on traffic clog in DTLA.  There was a rave in Historic Park and kids shouted out their window, "YO!  Why ARE YOU LEaVING THE PARTY!?"  I lied and said I was going to a bar and told them that the rave was still going on.  Phil laughed at my blatant lies.

We made it.  And instantly I was overwhelmed by the crowds of people, strollers, Mexican food.  I saw generators out in the open that look like they would electrocute people if they touched it.  Local Spanish music was played on stage and community art was displayed.  This festival at the Self Help Graphics and Art was celebrating it's 40th year.  This was so hidden from the West.

Sean was right.  I loved it. Amazing art and stories and community. Love love love.

I asked to take a picture with this girl and she grabbed her entire family for a quick photo.

Thanks for welcoming me.  Now I have to head back to my boring life as a white person who complains about not having culture.

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