This year’s Charm City Night Market festival was held on Saturday, September 21st and went from 3-11 PM. Danny Nguyen and I cohosted the main stage again. Unlike last year, we had a DJ onstage with us to play music in between acts and all cultural performances were moved to a smaller stage on the other side of the festival. This meant that our stage was the party stage. And boy did Baltimore party that night! The security team estimated that there were upwards of 20k in attendance which was perfect since the festival was more than double its size this time around.
We also had two major headline acts on the main stage: TT the Artist and Ruby Ibarra.
The highlight of my night was introducing the headliner, Filipino American rapper Ruby Ibarra. Her unmatched talent and work ethic has landed her on NPR, Paper Magazine, and Buzzfeed. She’s performed to national acclaim at Rock the Bells Festival, Paid Dues Festival, and Araneta Coliseum. Her striking music videos have been viewed over a million times. Her work is always informed by the AAPI-American diaspora and dedicated to her immigrant mother. She hopes to inspire young women out there to use their voice, to claim who they are and to embrace their identity.
As a fellow Filipina working to fight the effects of centuries of colonization and conflict on our people, I can tell you that Ruby is a straight-up warrior. She wields words just as nimbly and exactingly as our ancestors did blades of war and protection. She’s a hip-hop prodigy, a fierce catalyst for change, and an inspiration to so many Filipinx people and like-minded others who are involved in struggles for social and racial justice all over the world. Her powerful immigrant stories delivered in verse represent the voices of the innumerable voiceless, those who are far too often rendered as “less than.” But we say they are more than.
Ruby is dope.
Ruby is the future.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to see Ruby perform at the Smithsonian Festival. Then I got to have dinner with her and talk to her about Filipino American politics, identity and the future of our community. Despite her youth, she gets it.
And she is an incendiary force that lights the way for so many of us in the arts, Filipino and Asian-American communities.
Huge thanks to the Chinatown Collective, the Downtown Partnership, and the beautiful city of Baltimore for such a wonderful, momentous event! Can’t wait to host again next year!