Week 13 of my journey has taken me to Festival Season, a yearly tradition for many Chicago communities that spans about three months. Chicago is a City of Nations. You can travel the world without leaving Chicago. So I traveled to the Taylor Street Fest Italiana, held in Chicago's Little Italy Neighborhood at Taylor and Ashland. The festival is free, but the suggested donations are $5. I love the idea of fundraising with festivals and using the funds to provide financial support for our local schools and organizations through grants.
Upon entering the Fest, I asked a group of older ladies for their food suggestions. They recommended the oven baked pizza, Italian sausage, and red Peroni beer. The sausage was what I expected, though the bread was a bit thick. I can't complain, though, beer and sausage is a great combination. I couldn't find a Canoli, though—I'm a big fan of those.
My favorite part of the day was meeting this Sacilian guy. I could barely pronounce his name, but we immediately connected on a human level. He told me that "People Touch People," and he appreciated the MBMHMC movement.
When talking about root causes and solutions to violence in Chicago, he told me, "I'm Sacilian, so I know." I actually didn't know what he meant, but he said it with such empathy that I went home and did some research on Sacilian history. It turns out, Sicilians do have black ancestry, they do not look black like me, but they clearly are distinguishable from other whiter Europeans. From a historical perspective, the first wave of Africans to enter into Italy were those led by Hannibal and Jugartha from North Africa. They invaded Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, etc. Like all wars back then, rape was common, so many people from Portugal, Spain, South Italy and South France have black ancestry. My research suggests that even until this day Southern Italians are looked down upon by their northern counterparts for this reason. Maybe this is why the Sacilian guy said he "KNOWS," and understands the problem, as it relates to segregation and oppression. See, I don't mean wise guy as in "official gangster." I mean, this Sicilian guy was "wise." Having experience, knowledge or showing good judgement.
Wonderful times lay ahead on the My Block, My Hood, My City Tour.
Written by Jahmal Cole