An all-white Summerfest?

Carmen Alicia Murguia

I was waiting with bated breath for the Summerfest Marcus Amphitheater lineup. Would it be Jennifer Lopez with Wisin & Yandel? The Dream performing with Fabolous? Don Omar or Prince Royce?

To my amazement we’ve gone backward to a point that never existed before this new Summerfest management: This year’s Marcus Amphitheater lineup is all-white entertainment.

This is an urban city in 2012 where the majority is minorities. Latinos and blacks make up 51 percent of the population in Milwaukee, and yet Summerfest officials managed to secure all-white entertainment. They left out young people of color as well.

Summerfest is supposed to be Milwaukee’s music festival, but little by little, it’s been fading from that mission.

I was raised going to Summerfest during a time when it was “the world’s largest music festival” and it reflected “the world” over.

It began for me at age 11, when my cousins Lola and James took my brothers and sisters and me to see The Ohio Players and we stood on the wooden benches, grass and dirt in between on the lakefront. Everybody – black, Latino, Asian, American Indian, white – everybody came together to jam with them. Those were the times!

And since then I’ve made it a point to go to the smaller stages and I’ve had the pleasure to see, hear, and sing along with El Gran Combo, Mint Condition, Willie Colon, LL Cool J, Anthony Hamilton, Los Lonely Boys, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Santana, and Musiq Soulchild for a mere $15 (or less, depending on the year).

This year, however, has me extremely disappointed, mad even.

I want to know what’s going through the minds of those who selected the bands? Do we as a community have any power whatsoever to add or change who performs this year? Is there no tribute to Donna Summer and Whitney Houston? How can Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, get away with an all-white lineup in the 21st century?

We have made so many strides to move forward in this country, but this musical move is taking 10 steps backward.