There are many reasons to love the Denton Black Film Festival and appreciate how this event brings value to our community. But I’d like to point to just one that is noticeable to anyone hanging out around downtown the last few days: this festival has brought a notable and welcome change to the demographic make-up of downtown.
Let’s be honest. While Denton is incredibly diverse, our downtown is, by and large, pretty white and middle class. What we boast as our city’s “crown jewel” ought to reflect the community at-large. This is all the more crucial when we recognize that some of our highest concentrations of Hispanic and African-American citizens reside in walking distance to downtown in Southeast Denton.
I’m not writing this post to make anyone feel guilty or to place blame on anyone for this situation. But in a day where bringing our community together and finding ways to make all our neighbors feel valued and welcomed in our city has never been more important, pointing out a wonderful example of a downtown event that is doing it right seems instructive.
What else can we be doing to intentionally create events or build into existing events that serve as bridge makers in our community the way the Denton Black Film Festival has? How might we intentionally draw on various sectors of our community when choosing acts for Twilight Tunes or other downtown events and festivals? And even better, what can we do to continue to make downtown an attractive place for all families even when specific festivals and events aren’t taking place?
I don’t have all the answers, but I love seeing the beautiful results of efforts this weekend. It seems a worthy cause for our community to struggle with moving forward.