Bright Lights, Carib City
By Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter, Manhattan, New York Forget Carrie from Sex In the City. On Wednesday, June 4th, there was a Cari-Fest in the City, at the Carifest CARES: Keep A Child Alive launch party and benefit at 40/40 on 25th Street, and the Sumfest launch party at Negril on West 3rd Street.The launch for Carifest CARES was attended by scheduled performing artists Matisyahu, Caution, Kayla Bliss, Meta & The Cornerstones, Uriel Hamilton and Midnight. Joseph Israel greeted the crowd via a pre-recorded message played on 40/40’s many flat screens. He offered his regrets at not being able to attend the event because he is currently on tour; however, he will also be performing at this year’s Carifest. Lee Scratch Perry did not attend; however, his new album’s producer, Andrew WK, did.Carifest, an annual, New York-based, Caribbean diaspora celebration that combines food, crafts, and a concert, will also include a charitable theme this year: “Carifest CARES: Keep a Child Alive (KACA)”. Keep a Child Alive is a non-profit organization founded by Leigh Blake, in response to the desperate cry for much-needed AIDS-combating medicines in Africa.Marie Davis, a woman living with HIV, gave a powerfully poignant speech to the evening’s attendees about the need for HIV and AIDS testing within the community. She stated, “The African and African- American community is the largest community living with HIV and AIDS, yet we are the least frequently tested voluntarily. Too often, I hear people, especially parents, say they don’t want to get tested because they are afraid to know if they are infected, or not. If you are a parent, you have a moral obligation to find out of you are living with either HIV or AIDS, so you can protect your children.” Her speech was met with thunderous applause from the rapt audience. She also stressed the importance of the use of condoms, and explained the difference between HIV and AIDS, emphatically stating that they were not the same thing.People living with HIV and AIDS can prevent or delay some of the more serious symptoms and complications, if given anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) medication. These medicines are easily accessible in the United States, but are virtually non-existent in Africa, where the AIDS pandemic has reached its peak, killing tens of millions of people. That is where Keep A Child Alive comes in. According to KACA, ARV medicines can miraculously prolong the lives of those dying from AIDS. KACA forwards 100% of their donations to this cause, and supports 14 clinical and orphan care sites in 7 countries. According to KACA, there are over 15 million children worldwide who have lost one, or both, parents to the AIDS pandemic.To learn more about what you can do to help this cause, contact , or attend Carifest CARES on Sunday, July 6th, at the USTA National Tennis Center, in Flushing, Queens, from 5pm until 11pm.Meanwhile, across town, at Negril, media, friends and Jamaican government officials came together to support the launch for Sumfest, an annual concert event which takes place in Montego Bay, Jamaica on July 13th-19th.Sumfest organizers, Johnny Gourzong, Executive Director, Robert Russell, Chairman, Sydney Reid, Director of Sites & Services, and Marcia McDonnough, Promotions Director, were at Negril to answer questions from the media about this year’s upcoming event. The organizers were joined by Jamaican political bigwigs such as Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Carole Guntley, Director General in the Ministry of Tourism, Basil Smith, Director of Tourism, David Shields, Deputy Director of Marketing, and Donnie Dawson, Deputy Director of Tourism. The Jamaican politicians attended alongside their New York-based counterparts like Guillermo Linares, Commissioner of Immigration Affairs, and Genieve Brown Metzer, Jamaican Counsel General to New York.Despite the withdrawal of former Sumfest sponsors, Red Stripe, due to what they expressed as a disdain for the increasingly violent and inflammatory lyrics in dancehall music, the show must, and will indeed, go on. If the love and support that was apparent at the jam-packed launch was any indication of the support for the actual event, this year’s Sumfest will be just as successful as before, without sponsorship from Red Stripe.If you were unable to attend the launch parties, there is still plenty of time to get tickets to either, or both, of the events. Between Carifest CARES and Sumfest, it will certainly be a memorable Summer-fest of Cari-fun.