Archive for Thursday, March 23, 2006

Cinco provides opportunity to bridge cultures

March 23, 2006

Two weeks ago, a spokesman for the Johnson County Sheriff's Office called this newspaper asking for help in defusing a worrisome situation. The problem was recent friction between groups of young Hispanic and those of the same age of the community's traditional population.

The friction hadn't yet escalated into a real problem and sheriff's deputies were committed to preventing it from getting out of hand, the spokesman said. He asked that the paper help put the young men on notice of that fact and alert residents to notify the sheriff's office should they witness suspicious activity.

Ironically, this concern surfaced as the De Soto City Council was considering a list of requests from the De Soto Cinco de Mayo Festival Committee that would allow the festival to return to De Soto Community Center after a one-year absence.

In our view, the council rightly agreed to the committee's requests of which the most critical were a subsidy of $3,500 and the right to serve food at the festival.

In making the decision, the council agreed the festival was an important cultural event for a large segment of De Soto's population. At its best, the Cinco de Mayo celebration should also be a vehicle to remove the walls of separation that exists in De Soto between the two communities.

It is perhaps too much to hope that will be the case for a few hormone-crazed young men with a minimum number of connections to the other community. But it is reasonable to hope the festival could be part of an effort to build understanding and respect in De Soto, especially among the children developing those same values from school experience.

It would seem a wasted opportunity not to use the festival to expand on those contacts. Obviously, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture but it would be an attempt to expand the observation beyond that community to traditional community organizations, especially Scouts and others focusing on children.

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