Arizonans gathered Saturday to celebrate their cultures as part of the second annual Diaspora Day Phoenix, encouraging participants to explore the food, arts and culture impacted by the African diaspora.
The African diaspora refers to the communities that resulted from the people of Africa being enslaved and shipped primarily to the Americas and the Caribbean between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Michael Ingram said he organized the festival to create solidarity within the African, African-American and Afro-Caribbean communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
“Everyone has different identities when it comes to being black, so we just wanted everyone to feel welcome,” Ingram said. “We’re a lot more similar than we are different.”
Food at the festival included Jamaican and Cajun cuisine, as well as West African coffee. Clothing vendors displayed imported shoes, pants and dashikis, a colorful shirtlike garment typically worn by men in West Africa. Others hung rows of earrings sporting the pan-African colors, which include red, gold, black and green. Still other vendors sold products such as paintings, incense and oils, and even homemade beauty products.
Lauryn Mangum established an all-natural, organic hair- and skin-care line after an incident around candles lit her hair on fire.
“I started doing a lot of research and chemistry,” said Mangum, adding that she researched Eastern cultures for tips on how to maintain healthy hair. “I started doing expos, and then I was asked to do the Diaspora Day and I figured, of course, why not?”
The festival was family-friendly, with hula-hoops and bounce houses for smaller children. Tasha Grant was at Diaspora Day Phoenix with her family. Her daughters painted at one of the stations.
“We came to the park to feed the ducks and heard the music so we came over,” Grant said, adding that they will be back next year.
The event also included a showing of the documentary “Stand With Congo,” which shines light on corruption and violations against human rights occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Peter VK Mayangi, who left the Congo at age 18 and has spent 30 years in the United States, said he is advocating for change in the Congo so that his country will be safe from the terror that it has endured.
Black Wall Street Phoenix, a local branch of the global organization dedicated to the promotion, advocacy, development and support of African-American business and individuals, helped sponsor the festival.
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