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#CarnivalCulture: Miami Carnival with Freaks Mas Band

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

It's that time of year again! Carnival season in Miami! Every year the Caribbean community ignites into a unified collective of nostalgia.

Since the tender age of 5 years old I have been participating in carnival festivities. My earliest memories being of carnival in Cap-Haitien, Haiti (my parents home town). It was 1996 or '97 and my mom had me out in the streets of Au Cap, slanging our bests gouyés to the legendary tunes of King Posse (the littiest Haitian band IMO). So yeah, carnival's as natural to me as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Like the aforementioned holiday's, its an opportunity for me to convene with my fellow Caribbean massive and celebrate and give thanks for who we are and where we come from.

As I got older living in South Florida, I was blessed to be able to continue the tradition of carnival thanks to the robust Caribbean ecosystem in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. While my mom wasn't too keen on participating, I have kept up the tradition.

Here's why:

As a Caribbean woman, carnival is so integral to me and connecting

with my fellow natives and diaspora. Carnival speaks to so many facets of my culture and people; I can't help but feel alive when playing mas. This year was extra special because it is the first year that my younger sisters and I have played together! When they came of age to play mas, I was away at college, then off being a flight attendant. So it was an extra special treat getting out first experience together.

While those of Caribbean descent, recognize the cultural significance of mas, I would be remised not to mention the flip side.

Carnival is often misunderstood. Too often I see it being hyper sexualized and/or reduced to some sort of rebellious event. More recently an institutional stance has been taken by Instagram to shadow ban popular Carnival hashtags. While hashtags about Carnival in Brazil and London are unaffected. This is a major slight to the Caribbean community. As we see all to often when it comes to diaspora of the African descent, our traditions and customs are dismissed, belittled and/or demonized by western media. Carnival is not what, those who misunderstand it, believe it to be. Carnival is a celebration an opportunity to celebrate life; it is historically significant. PERIOD.

There is meaning, history and tradition in what we do every year for carnival.

On November 1st I will be airing my first travel episode #CarnivalCulture. It will delve into the history and meaning behind this Caribbean tradition. In the mean time enjoy these highlights from Miami Broward Carnival.

Also, major congratulations to my band #FreaksMas for winning band of the year!

Help me find these beautiful Kings & Queens by tagging anyone you recognize in the video 👑

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