Photo Credit: ©Erin Douglass
Burning Man Isn't Just For White Hipsters
Burning Man is an annual event held in Black Rock City, a temporary town constructed in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. It is a week-long experiment dedicated to anti-consumerism and self-expression in the form of an art festival. The event attracts well over 35,000 participants and ends with the burning of a large wooden sculpture of a man.
As one might imagine, an event like this isn’t widely known among people of color. However, things are starting to change and more black and brown people are beginning to attend this event.
Erin Douglas, a photographer, first attended the event in 2017 after a friend gifted her with a ticket for her birthday. After posting about her experience, Douglass decided to attend the event this year and create a photo project in hopes of exposing more people of color to the experience.
She shared her thoughts and photos with Travel Noire.
“My favorite moment was the idea of the group shot (with other people of color) and not thinking anyone would show. The response and energy when people arrived. It was such an amazing feeling. Also, it was dope to see people and think wow I’m so glad you are open to this.”
Travel Noire: Can you walk us through the event and what took place?
Erin: For those that have never attended Burning Man, you really won’t understand the event until you go. You hear music everywhere you turn, people are genuine, happy, open, giving, loving, caring, friendly, funny, and quirky. There’s something to do at each hour of the day, from checking out the art, to panels and discussions, to yoga or skating. There’s everything you can think of, and some things you can’t. It’s like living in a world you’ve always wished for.
Travel Noire: From your perspective, how did this event impact you?
Erin: The event made me realize all the things I wanted to be, and the things I didn’t want to be any longer. It reminded me of who I never wanted to become. The experience forced me to recognize how much energy I waste on the small and unimportant. For example, who cares if my legs are dusty? So are everyone else’s. Who the heck cares if society tells you that you need to be a toothpick in order to be beautiful? Wear what the heck you want to wear. When you realize how unreal this place is, you forget about the millions of people out there who are filled with hate and not realizing the beautiful experiences they’re missing out on, you will see that this event is out of this world and unexplainable.
While at Burning Man, Erin decided to get perspectives from other people of color that attended the event. She told us about Roy, a three-time “Burner.” When asked to describe his Burning Man experience, he began with three words: “Laugh, love and euphoria. This came in the form of self-love, having the confidence to get outside of my comfort zone, holding genuine conversations with strangers, listening intently, being a yes man, and practicing radical immediacy to see what adventures the day took me on. Two weeks out, I still miss it, and wish I could go back.”
For additional information, Erin can be reached via Instagram: @aphotochick.
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.