Was in Memphis late this week to present at a film festival.  Against all odds  — cancelled flights, closed airports and no drivers to take me to the airport – I made it.  And because I put so much effort in to coming, I was super excited to finally see the town…albeit for an only a few hours since I was to be flying back the next morning.

I was taken aback by some of the beauty I saw on my way into the downtown area.  On one side of me was the Mississippi river, and on the other was a cluster of eclectic, beautifully-designed homes set up on a hill.   As I entered the downtown area, I saw visitors lining up to see Justin Beiber perform at the schmancy FedEx forum right across the street from my hotel.

For dinner, I was taken out to a local BBQ place (they actually had Portobello mushrooms for me :)) by a group of clients who were all very warm and hospitable.

After dinner I went to a cool party  in a record studio hosted by the festival.  VERY Memphis.

But when I looked around, I noticed something.  Actually, it was what wasn’t there that I noticed: people of color.   Everybody was white.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised.  It’s the South after all.  But the uniformity was palpable.  And the potential beauty of the event was lost.

I sometimes take for granted the gorgeousl rainbow of human colors all around me in New York.  That’s what makes New York so beautiful.  Yes, the buildings, the parks and museums contribute to the city’s visual appeal.  But for me, it’s the people  — what they wear, their skin colors and facial features, and how they engage one another — who make the City so amazing.  Without them, the City would be ugly.

New York is going through some tough times right now.  And it’s not looking so pretty – literally. But I would give up bucolic, hilly views; fancy parties and brand new plush stadiums any day, for the beauty of diversity.

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