A different version of this was originally published in Burn Magazine.
Like much of my Coney Island work, I unknowingly stumbled onto the J'ouvert parade. One Labor Day dawn I was just out walking around, I heard distant music and started walking toward it. As I got closer, I passed drunken, painted people in the street. Then when I got to Nostrand Avenue, I came across a party in full swing, with the floats and blaring music and lots more drunken, painted people.
The next year, I went to the Children's Parade on the Saturday before Labor Day and then the J'ouvert Parade at dawn on Labor Day morning. After that, I went to both of those parades every year and over time, came to see that people in the West Indian community of Brooklyn were, in a sense, growing up in public. From the innocence of the children to the wild decadence of the politically motivated protest/party of J'ouvert and the crowds that watch the spectacles, I saw a community simultaneously celebrating and searching for its place in the world.