Well Played: African World Festival 2015

by Zuri McWhorter

I went on a much needed vacation this weekend. Sounds, textures, aromas, and good vibes from better people spread across the block behind the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for the 33rd annual African World Festival. I had the over exerting pleasure of working directly with a vendor this year.

Detroit X, the people who want to blend the art and soul of our city for you to represent anywhere, curated and managed the Official AWF Merch and Info booth. “We gotta make this look like a boutique, not a regular festival tent,” my homie Taqee Vernon, creator of Detroit X, told me. We had to fit a dozen designers and musicians, including Cool Club Clothing, D.R.E.A.M Clothing, The Shed, Chad Roto, Max D’Villian, and Shaun Carlo, into this one booth. “Make it pretty!” And thus, the fun began.

During those three, 12-hour working days, we learned something new about vending; it is much more complicated than anticipated. Assembling clothing racks (on racks on racks) usually happens in the dark. People shop naturally to the right. Customers won’t check for their own sizes. Music volume matters. Draw the crowd in with a child star; my friend’s niece would run over to the booth and want to sing and dance. Evidently, people get in a buying mood when they see a toddler Nay Nay.

I’ll let you in on another vendor’s secret: some people truly are supportive and proud of Detroit. We had plenty of customers who purchased a T-shirt that was too big or a CD without even listening to it, strictly to show love to our local artists. Don’t let anyone lie and tell you that Detroit isn’t an adoring, deep rooted community!

Still, there was nothing more enjoyable than being able to kick it with long time homies I hadn’t seen in a while, talkin’ junk and trying to figure out how we even pulled this booth off. As the crowd wined down, the fest was coming its official end. Tents were being broken down, inventory was being packed up, and money was being organized. “Here,” I was handed a ball of cash, “do that thing where you make sense of this.”

“This was the best weekend if my entire adult life. #AWF33,” I mentioned on Facebook later that night. I can no longer deny it, I am an adult. It took some getting used to, but being a grown up is not about the freedom to do whatever you want. It is about appreciating everything you are given. I was given a few days away from that incessant plight of being fortunately Black, and I didn’t even have to leave Detroit.


***Check out the artists featured in the DetroitX boutique:


Cool Club http://www.coolclubclothing.com/

D.R.E.A.M http://www.dreamclothing.biz/

Such A Natural Tees @such.a.natural.tees (Instagram)

The Shed https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Shed-at-Martz-Park/1427796047496216



Chad Roto https://soundcloud.com/chadroto

Max D’Villian https://soundcloud.com/maxthevillain/sets/anarchy

Shaun Carlo https://soundcloud.com/shauncarlobgk/sets/breadcrumbs

Akbar Walks https://soundcloud.com/akbarwalks

BGK Tish https://soundcloud.com/bgk-tish/sets/the-curve

DJ Bleek https://soundcloud.com/djbleekg/sets/detroit-cuts-ep

The Zoo Music Group https://soundcloud.com/itsthezoo