So when I attended the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on January 16, knowing its intent to show that music can be a uniter of peoples of all cultures and ethnicities, I thought it might a hard mission to illustrate. But I was so wrong. In speech alone, the program of a little over an hour presented a different accent with nearly every person who spoke.
In the first place, the emcee, DaKishia Reid, is from Colorado, so her speech patterns are not much different from mine. We share a love of words, music, and art, and join together monthly with others on the Cedar City Arts Council to work to promote the arts in Iron County. However, no one would ever get us mixed up. Chalk one up for diversity. But as she began introducing the program, a variety of speech patterns provided a greater diversity in Cedar City than I had expected.
Dr. Ali Siapush, a professor at SUU, is an expert in the fields of heat transfer, aerospace, and thermohydraulics. If that isn’t enough to insure diversity between him and me, this Pakistan native speaks Farsi, so his address about the wonderful diversity he has seen in America was underscored by speech patterns and accents that were very different from what I hear every day.
The Hispanic dance group Herencia Hispana introduced itself in accents I remember from our time in the central valley of California. The Spanish accent was common there, but here it was at an important cultural event in Cedar City, Utah.
The featured speaker of the evening, Janice Brooks, spoke in the easy, soft tones of her ethnic group, making me lean forward just a bit to catch each word. And, best of all, she laced her remarks with occasional bits of song, a device used more in the black culture than in my uptight crowd. (Think President Obama singing during his eulogy in a church in the south.)
I also happen to know that if two other performers had spoken, we’d have heard German and Chinese accents.
All those accents representing all those diverse lifestyles and upbringings…….Who knew?! So much for my perception that everyone here looks and sounds like me.