Tapping into the future

WASHINGTON — What do drumsticks have to do with UNITY and promoting diversity in media? I was wondering that when the usher handed me a pair on entering UNITY’s opening ceremonies on a muggy, yet manageable Wednesday evening. Would there be performers like those in Broadway musicals like Stomp and Bring in da’ noise, Bring in da’ funk?

As it turns out, the audience used the sticks to applaud speakers and to keep the beat during the numerous dance interludes during the ceremonies. All the groups were extremely energetic and entertain, although I found the yellow jumpsuit/red bikini tops worn by the female members of the troupe representing the National Asssociation of Hispanic Journalists a little — bizarre.

The presidents of all four journalism organizations gave appropriately inspiring words about UNITY and promoting diversity. Their comments got me thinking about the meaning of “diversity” and what role it plays in the newsroom and in real life.

All the speakers were generally good, even the sponsors got a say. However, I think the mayor of Washington pushed his agenda for a true representative government in the district a little too hard after some positive opening remarks.

In the end, I was happy that one of my predictions came true. I thought it would be nice for all the dancing and performing groups to perform together. Sure enough, all the groups came on state at the end and started jamming. It looked a little awkward at first, but it came together when everyone started to get into the rhythm. Might their performance be an example for others trying to work together? We’ll see.

Later that night, I was awestruck by the beauty of the airy arches of Union Station. A great portion of the station was closed off for the UNITY opening reception.

The reception was huge — I got a real sense of what 7,500 people in the same room was like. The roar of the conversation in the cavernous room resembled the rumbling of the subway that the gathering was held over. It was easy to feel like a drop in a multicolored sea of people, but I thankfully met a few people toward the end.

One of the people I met — a PR guy from Philadelphia — described UNITY as a “Woodstock for ethnic journalists” albeit a more professional gathering. As the next three days approaches, it’ll be interesting to see events as they unfold.

This post was originally created on 4:49 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2004. It was uploaded later