Blues and Shoes Criticized for Lack of Diversity and Inclusiveness

This past Saturday marked the tradition of Colorado College’s annual springtime Bluegrass festival, Blues and Shoes. Hosted by the Carnivore Club, the event on Tutt Science Quad involves bluegrass music, dancing, and lawn games. One can find an assortment of overalls, smoked meats, and happy smiling faces. There’s even a mechanical bull. The tradition is something looked forward to by many students as it is a free and relaxing day in what is usually beautiful Colorado weather. Even with the stormy weather  this past weekend, there was a great energy at the music festival.

Students relaxing on Tutt Quad. Photo Coutresy of Sophia Skelly

However, Blues and Shoes has received criticism for its lack of inclusivity. Sam Fesshaie, CCSGA’s new VP of Inclusion, commented on the issue: “Many students of color who have attended say that it is a very white-washed and Eurocentric-based version of bluegrass music. There are a great deal of artists of color that specialize in Bluegrass music, and yet almost every year, students of color are only able to watch white artists perform. The event is clearly not diverse, and I hope to diversify the event next year by collaborating with everyone that organizes musical events on campus as a means to include the suggestions of students of color.”

Fesshaie said that she has “no urge to remove Blues and Shoes from this campus” despite the prevalent white-washed culture. “I see how fun it is for many of the students at CC, and it’s always nice to see students enjoying an event on campus. If we are talking about the typical white CC student, then I believe the majority of the student body really enjoys the event.”

While CCSGA committees do not have the authority to monitor admissions and increase diversity in that way, the inclusion committee in collaboration with the rest of the student government have a pull in shifting the culture on campus to be more inclusive. Many assume discontent is not a problem because the event is free and everyone has the same ability to attend, making it seem inclusive.

For some like Fesshaie, the music may not be everyone’s taste, but it is worth a try. “I attended Blues and Shoes this year, but I did not stay the whole time; I enjoyed the music during intermission and seeing all of my friends, but eventually I left the event because I just didn’t really think the performances fit my musical taste.”

Although the day is a unique and fun aspect of CC, Fesshaie finished with how “In comparison to other CC events, I definitely believe that Blues and Shoes is one of the least inclusive events on campus. Even in comparison with events like Llamapalooza, Blues and Shoes has consistently fallen short in terms of its inclusivity and diversity.”

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