In about two weeks balloonists from all over the planet will descend upon our ciudad bonita for the big annual fiesta. That’s an impressive event, and I encourage people to check it out.
That’s just one way of experiencing Albuquerque. That's the Prom date way – you know, the guy with the flashy tux, the rented limo, and the aftershave you can smell from a mile away?
Me? I prefer picnic dates with the guy next door. You know, the nice guy who scrapes together the money to buy a beater car, works two jobs to pay the rent (and helps out mom with her cell phone bill), who drives you to the foothills overlooking the city, spreads out a blanket on the dirt, and feeds you a feast he's put together himself.
That steals my heart like no prom date flash ever could.
This weekend you have a chance to attend the fiesta version of a picnic date: the Carnuel Road Parade and Fiesta on Saturday, September 22 from 11 am to 2 pm. It is an awesome home grown parade and fiesta celebrating two historic communities of Albuquerque: Sawmill and Wells Park. Just go!
Wait a minute… Carnuel Road, you say?
Yes, Carnuel Road. We know it as Mountain Road.
There’s an interesting history behind this.
Back in the day, loggers would bring their logs down from the mountains into the city. The road they used?
It was a dirt road then, and travelling from Carnuel to Albuquerque was a full day’s journey, according to the late Tomas Herrera, a longtime East Mountain resident who made this trek on a horse-drawn wagon as a boy, delivering cut pinon and juniper to Old Town Albuquerque.
You might be wondering: Carnuel? Sounds familiar, but I can’t place it…
This might help.
The Cañon de Carnuel Land Grant dates back to 1763. Unlike most of the other Spanish land grants, the community of Carnué was settled by genízaros – formerly enslaved non-Pueblo Indians who adopted Spanish lifestyles.
The motivation behind this land grant wasn’t pure benevolence – a gesture of reparation to slaves – but an instrumental one. Carnué served as a buffer between the civilization (note the dripping sarcasm!) of Albuquerque and the roaming tribes of Indians (yup, I’m deferring to local preference with this term – I was once schooled by a Lagunan for using “Native American” in this town). If you wanted to raid Albuquerque from the east, you had to go through Carnuel first.
I want you to note the date of the establishment of Carnuel – 1763 – and compare that with this date: 1862. In 1862, Congress passed the Emancipation Act, which freed all slaves in the District of Columbia. Owners were paid for their slaves – the official title of the bill is the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act. The Emancipation Proclamation came later – this was the first step toward freeing slaves for the United States of America). Connect the dots: in 1763 former slaves were given a home in Cañon de Carnuel, right there off I-40. One hundred years later, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order -- this means it was not passed by Congress. You know the rest...
Now, New Mexico didn’t enter the union until 1912 (you have been paying attending to the celebrations this year, sí?) and this talk of slavery in a far distant place and time may seem to have nothing to do with us today.
But let me offer up a tenuous connection.
As regular readers of my blog know, I’m a philosopher by profession. I work in a niche area of philosophy called disability bioethics, which means the things I think about most are ethical questions related to people with disabilities. Topics like distributive justice, normalcy, and group rights occupy my thoughts most days. The history of how disabled people have been treated in this country isn’t always pretty, but it isn’t the sordid history of slavery, either.
There’s one thing that does connect these histories, though, and that is dehumanization. Just as slaves were viewed as less than human, so were people with disabilities. On my bad days, I worry that the view that people with disabilities as subhuman still prevails behind closed doors, though people usually won’t admit to their prejudices in public.
The Carnuel Road Parade and Fiesta has a disability tie-in. There’s a Buddy Walk happening on Saturday in conjunction with the parade! Buddy Walks were started by the National Down Syndrome Society to promote inclusion and Down Syndrome awareness. This Buddy Walk is sponsored by the Rio Grande Down Syndrome Network and goes from the Harwood Center to Tiguex Park, where the fiesta is happening from noon to 2 pm.
You can support a good cause by walking, but you can do something else at the Carnuel Parade and Fiesta. Show people that you care about inclusion by including them. Just as you might strike up a conversation with an apparently able-bodied person at the fiesta, do the same with people with disabilities. Don’t patronize – just talk!
Here’s the scratch on the parade and fiesta:
Kudos to the Harwood Art Center, Wells Park, Downtown & Sawmill Neighborhood Associations, The Rio Grande Downs Syndrome Network and the Sawmill Community Land Trust for their support.