HYANNIS – Tourists and locals alike danced to a reggae beat under sunny skies in Aselton Park overlooking Hyannis Harbor Saturday for the first ever Amplify Summer Market.
But this was no ordinary vendor market. It is part of the efforts of a new nonprofit, Amplify POC (People of Color) Cape Cod, to eradicate the wealth gap on Cape Cod and beyond. Eradicating the racial wealth gap would be no small feat, but for Tara Vargas Wallace, who founded the nonprofit, it is a big part of her organization’s mission to promote racial equity.
Wallace and Amplify board member Sunny Fellman and Board President Jeanne Morrison were spreading the word about racial justice and promoting local businesses run by people of color at the event.
Vargas said she hopes the Market will become an annual activity.
There were more than two dozen vendors, plus food and beverage concessions from Caribbean- and Brazilian-owned businesses; children’s activities and live music by Dis-N-Dat and DJ Peter Barboza.
Among the vendors at the Market was Leslie Gomes-Preston who grew up on Nantucket and now lives in South Yarmouth. She was selling what she called “African Newspaper Dolls,” made from rolled up recycled newspaper and painted with acrylic paints.
Preston is Cape Verdean and in celebration of her ancestry, she painted some of the dolls with red, white and blue Cape Verdean colors. Other dolls are meant to represent women from different countries in Africa and elsewhere.
Preston, an artist, said she started making the dolls during the pandemic when she found a Youtube video online about them. Friends give her newspapers to use and she even gets requests for dolls with different themes.
Hawa Kane was staffing a booth of her family’s business, Butu International. Her family is originally from Senegal and the business, which has a location at Cape Cod Mall, imports crafts and products from Senegal, Mali and other African countries.
Mari Daluz of Hyannis was staffing a booth for her company, Body by Mari, which sells fitness equipment and leisure ware. She said high quality at affordable prices sets her wares apart.
Wallace said the vendor fair supports Amplify’s mission “to bring visibility and patronage to businesses owned by people of color in our community.”
She said, “There are large disparities of wealth due to years and years of harmful systemic polities, like red-lining, gentrification and loan discrimination.”
In addition to vendor events, Wallace said Amplify POC runs educational programming about economic literacy, wealth building and other topics; organizes a business expo; provides grants to POC-owned businesses; and advocates for legislative policies that support racial equity.
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