Posts Tagged ‘Race

21
Apr
09

This Bobolee Is Getting A Serious Beating, Boy!

Yesterday morning, the hit counter on my blog stood at 25,000 hits.  I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least!  At this sentence, the count stands at 25,106 unique hits.

boboleepicture

A Good Friday Bobolee in Trinidad.

[Guanaguanare: The Laughing Gull]

This is a major milestone for me, and for my blog.  Actually, this is my 2nd attempt at blogging.  I used to have a MSN Spaces page at one point in time (http://spaces.msn.com/bluesoapbox was the URL) which I discontinued as I didn’t feel too comfortable sharing my inner thoughts and feelings with the whole wide world at the time.  What got me started again was the 2008 US Election campaign.  I was really appalled some of the things that were being said (and done) during the campaign, and at the same time, I was really captivated by Barack Obama.

A few friends and I were discussing the campaign issues online and one posted a Slate picture slideshow entitled “The Soiling of Old Glory”.   Those pictures invoked memories of a trip I’d made to a Southern US state in the 1990’s.  Those memories helped me write “The Day I Met Jim Crow”, a recollection of the day I met Jim Crow for the first time.  That’s the most widely read and referenced post on this blog to date, with close to 1300 views to date.

I’m really fortunate to have made a few acquaintances thru this second blogging stint; acquaintances I hope turn into friendships as time goes by.  My blog stats tell me that my blog posts have been read from as far west as Alaska to as far east as China.  That really… I don’t know… has me in awe?  I really don’t know how else to describe it… how that makes me feel.

My blog will be a year old on May 24th.  With any luck (and time) I’ll share some more facts and figures then.  In these eleven months (approx), I also started Bobolee Pix, a space for me to share a few of my pictures.  I’ve been stymied with my photography efforts though: someone sniped my camera last month and I haven’t gotten myself a replacement as yet! 😕  Really a shame… I loved taking photos, and my camera and I had just gotten used to each other’s quirks.  I hope the new owner likes it as much as I did! 😕

I’m not a learned scholar, an author, a writer, or a journalist.  Just a simple dude with an opinion (and a way with words, apparently).  I have to warn you, I’m not always able to post as I like due to my real-world commitments!  I wish I could do nothing else but share my thoughts and observations with you each and everyday… and I probably could, but I’ll have to leave my currently well-paying 9-5!  At least, now with my Twitter feed,  we can still share and communicate thoughts on a more impromptu and frequent basis.

Thanks a lot for visiting, thanks a lot for linking, thanks a lot for critiquing, and thanks a lot for sharing!

thank-you

Peace and Rice,

jw

12
Dec
08

Throwback Friday: Dave Chappelle’s “Racial Draft”

Whoa.  Its been a looong time… and I’m still not out of the woods yet!  I will be soon, though…

Anyway, I was thinking to myself tonight (admittedly, an unwise course of action at times)… wouldn’t it be really great if Dave Chappelle could “update” the skit shown in the video below, given all that’s happened with Colin Powell, Barack Obama and O.J. Simpson in the last few months, weeks and days?

I don’t want to say too much more about my reasons.  Just watch the video and (hopefully) enjoy!

😆

So long, fried rice!

🙂

jw

(Edit: The video has/uses slurs that may be offensive to some.  Please be advised.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

14
Aug
08

Their Eyes Are Watching From Above

I first read this in May, and I bookmarked it for later reading. I’ve read it often ever since. I’ve taken the liberty of copying it to share with you. The original can be found here. I’ve “hyperlinked through” the article with relevant references that I hope are helpful.  This was written before Obama became the “presumptive” nominee of the Democratic Party.

I find it really calm, reflective and moving. I hope you do too. Enjoy.

Peace and Much Love.

jw

————–

Their eyes are watching from above

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Somewhere beyond the Elysian Fields, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. are the last to leave a celestial forum they’ve nicknamed the Martyrs’ Ball. It is the 40th anniversary of their respective assassinations, so both men are feeling more wistful than usual.

By eternity’s standards, less than a second has passed, but by their lingering sense of how time passes on Earth, they have endured years full of speeches and celebrations crammed into one day. Both were moved to tears by Walt Whitman’s lengthy tribute. He was one of their favorite poets because of his deep knowledge of the American spirit.

Marian Anderson’s voice seemed to reverberate throughout the celestial sphere itself when she fronted a choir that included Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney. She sang all of Martin’s favorite spirituals.

They both mock-grimaced through President John F. Kennedy’s jokes told, as usual, at their expense. JFK still knew how to tease his younger brother. He also reminded Martin Luther King about needing a ghostwriter for his own 50th anniversary Martyrs’ Ball speech in a few years.

“Give me some words that Rev. Jeremiah Wright can’t make fun of and I’ll practice my delivery so that it doesn’t sound like his very bad imitation of my very good inauguration speech,” President Kennedy said as the heavenly hosts roared with laughter.

“One of these days, you’re going to have to stop holding me responsible for everything Rev. Wright says,” Martin said, eliciting yet another round of laughter and applause. Eternity is a place where irony is appreciated.

Standing at the great Reflecting Pool of Reality later that evening, Martin and Bobby look into its crystalline depths, causing the distance between heaven and Earth to part like clouds. Images shimmer into view. Loved ones can be seen. The secrets of men’s hearts are revealed. The political beast stands revealed in all of its nakedness.

Martin puts his arms around Bobby’s shoulder as Sen. Edward Kennedy’s face appears. They scan the newspaper headlines about his brain tumor in silence. “He is making peace with whatever happens,” Bobby says. “Still, my baby brother is no fatalist. He’s in no hurry to be with his older brothers again. Good for him.”

Martin Luther King Jnr and Robert Kennedy

Martin Luther King Jnr and Robert Kennedy

[From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum]

Bobby stirs the waters again. Hillary Clinton’s face comes into view. “Hillary is mentally and spiritually exhausted,” he says.

“I agree,” Martin says. “Evoking the day you were murdered as justification for staying in the race sounds worse than what she meant.”

Bobby gazes at the Democratic presidential candidate’s anguished expression in a time-lapse montage. “The grueling pace of the primary has made her careless. Her ambition is at war with her best instincts.”

Martin stoops to stir the waters of the Reflecting Pool with his index finger. He sees the face of a newborn baby. He smiles with pleasure. “My oldest son and his wife have named my first grandchild Yolanda Renee King,” Martin announces with pride. “That thunder you hear coming from the celestial mountains is the sound of Coretta jumping for joy.”

“Congratulations, Martin,” Bobby says. The civil rights leader stirs the waters once more. Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama’s face comes into view.

“It’s hard to believe a mere four decades has passed since we both slipped the bonds of Earth,” Martin says. “The evolution of America’s racial attitudes in a generation is as big a miracle as the two of us standing here reacting to it. We are witnessing a milestone in the nation’s history.”

“Is this truly Barack Obama’s moment, Martin? Is he the spiritual heir to your ‘I Have a Dream’ ethos, or will he succumb to worldly pragmatism and do whatever it takes to win?”

“Like every man, he finds himself resisting the temptation to take shortcuts,” Martin says. “He is so close to grasping the prize that he can almost taste it. But there is danger in this moment as well. There are many sick and deluded men and women who will not abide his election to the highest office of the land. What will their rage compel them to do about it?”

They listen to Barack Obama delivering the commencement address at Wesleyan University as Teddy Kennedy’s stand-in. They are impressed by his eloquence and his heart for changing America. It feels visionary to them. It feels familiar.

“My brother loves this man. Now I can see why. He is as charismatic as you once were,” Bobby says.

John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jnr.

John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jnr.

[From George Lois and Esquire]

“I beg to differ,” Martin says. “This young man definitely has more Kennedy in him than King.”

Suddenly, the waters grow dark and Martin and Bobby’s reflections return to the surface of the water. “Even we don’t have the right to see the future, Martin, but I still have a good feeling about it.”

Martin Luther King sighs. “Whatever happens — all will be well,” he says. “We have the rest of eternity to learn and absorb that truth.”

************

PS: I suspect that the Clinton camp will still try to usurp Obama’s nomination and confirmation at the upcoming convention. Let’s hope good sense prevails.

PPS: I had already ‘written’ and formatted this post, and was intending to publish it the day before the Convention was due to start, i.e., Aug. 24th.

With the latest news of Hillary’s name being added to the ballot, I thought it best to publish now.

Peace and Much Love,

jw.

19
Jul
08

Who Are These Jokers, Anyway?

[Photo: Batman Movie Posters]

They’re the ones who smash the one-day box office record with $66.4 million on opening day

.

.

[Photo: CNN]

They’re the ones who issue a 100 BILLION DOLLAR banknote that can’t even buy a loaf of bread

.

.

[Photo:”Nelson Mandela: A Life in Pictures”]

They’re the ones who put Nelson Mandela on a Terrorist Watch List… then removed him after more than a decade after fighting and deposing the racist apartheid government

.

.

[Photo: The Arlington National Cemetary]

They’re the ones who (f)mucked up the citizenship application of 21 year old Trinidadian/US soldier Kendall Frederick, who got killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq as he attempted to straighten out the bureaucratic mess they put him in…

.

.

But hey…

[Photo:The Meltdowns]

I’m really excited to see the new Batman movie… as if you couldn’t tell! 🙂

Peace and Much Love.

jw

12
Jul
08

The Day I Met Jim Crow

A friend of mine sent me this slideshow a few months ago: http://www.slate.com/id/2188648/slideshow/2188675/fs/0//entry/2188674/

I wrote this piece before completing the whole slide show, in response.  Just seeing that first picture evoked strong memories of the first time I saw it as a little boy in the pages of the Life, Time and Ebony magazines we had at home…

I thank my father for exposing me to the real world through books and subscriptions to news magazines when I was younger.  😎

Peace and Much Love. jw
—–

When I was in Upper 6th Form and due to leave my Trinidadian secondary school, a teacher organised a SAT/Scholarship session with some recruiters from the University of Steubenville, and some other US college. The teacher was caucasian, or as we like to say here in Trinbago, “Trini White”.

Before our guests came in, he pointed out to us, that in many ways, the US of A was more racist than South Africa (this was in the early 1990’s, a few months before they released Nelson Mandela from prison), and actively encouraged the “students of colour” to hype that fact up in US college applications, as we would have an advantage because of the affirmative action programs that the US colleges had to deploy.

I remember hearing one of my white classmates sitting behind me utter a soft “steups.” 😉

I got a chance to visit a fairly rural part of a deep southern US State for the first time on a 3 month company sponsored training trip in the late 90’s. While there, I sometimes used to think that I was the only black man for miles around.  It was the kind of place where, when you saw another black person, you gave them that knowing How you doin’? nod, and even stopped to chat for a few.  Most times, the black folk I encountered were the “help” in the place I was in/visiting/working. I met up with two Trinidadian families that way… but that’s another story.

Anyway, being the “good” Church boy that I am, I wanted to go to a Catholic Church close to my hotel. I found it strange that all the hotel clerks were directing me to a Hispanic church which was about 10 minutes away by car (and therefore, more taxi fare) instead of one that I could just walk to in under 20 minutes. As I wanted to explore my surroundings and stretch my legs a bit, I went to the closer Church regardless.

No problems for me… I sat in the back and spied a black family at church!  My heart leapt for joy and I made a mental note to speak to them afterwards. Because I was a first time visitor to the church, the mainly white congregation welcomed me with open arms.  I mean, I saw these middle-aged & older white men and women come up to me and hug, kiss and embrace me like a prodigal, when I could swear a few days ago, more than half of those same folks crossed the street when they saw me coming towards them!

Anyway, after the service, one of the daughters from the black family came over to chat with me. Her folks were Jamaican, and one of the first things she asked me was “How come you didn’t go to the Spanish church?”

“I don’t speak that much Spanish, so it would’ve been difficult for me to understand. Plus this church was only about 20 minutes walking from my hotel.”

“You walked?!”
“Yeah… something’s wrong with walking?”
“Where’s your hotel?”
“The Radisson on such and such street.”
Oooh… that’s a nice hotel… they have nice food there…”

Moms walks over to chat, with her other daughter in tow. Pops is talking to a man on the side. Moms hits me with the Jamaican slang as soon as she realises I’m Trinbagonian… “Wham now, rude bwoy?” I laugh and smile… tell her its good to see fellow West Indians up in the place.

“How come you didn’t go to the Spanish church?”

I give the same reply, and begin to wonder “what’s so wrong with this church” that makes people want to recommend la vida loca on sight of me. Pops comes over and we chit chat, they have to leave, but promise to look me up at the hotel now that they know that I’m there.

“We West Indians have to look out for one another!”, Mom says and smiles as she gets into their sedan. She
works at some law firm or the other.  Pops is a police man or an Army soldier or something.

As they pull off, I turn around to start my walk back.  I almost bounce into this middle-aged white man.  Pepper gray/blonde hair.  Ice blue eyes.  Affable looking, he apologised, and asked if I wanted a ride back to my hotel, as he’d overheard I was staying at the Radisson.  I accepted his offer.

“What’s your name?”
“My name is Jude.”
“Ah… like the song, or were you named after the saint?”
“Both, actually.  I’m sorry… but I didn’t catch your name?”
“That’s cuz I didn’t throw it. My name is Jim.  Jim Crow.”

[picture taken from: Literacy Rules!]

😯

In shock, I look up at the man, to see if he’s serious. He’s not laughing.

I look at his wife and his little daughter. They’re not laughing either.

I’m wondering whether I should laugh or if I should run… but my instincts told me to take him at his word… play it cool, and use my keys as a weapon… just in case.

“Your parents must’ve had a unique sense of humour, Jim.”
Jim grins.  His wife laughs. “That’s what I always tell him!”

We get into the car, and we pull off. Jim talks about the teasing he endured growing up because of his name… and that he always gets that same reaction from black people when he introduces himself to them.

For the duration of the 5 minute ride (which seemed like forever), I get told about how articulate I am, how intelligent I seem, and how handsome I am (when Jim’s wife said this, I saw his eyes flick up to the rear-view and hold me in a glance for a few seconds.  I met his gaze while I thanked her for the compliment and nodded back to Jim. He put his eyes back on the road.)

As I’m getting out of the car at the hotel, they tell me about the Spanish church 20 minutes driving from here, and wonder aloud why I didn’t go there. I give them the same reply, plus the fact that I didn’t have a car to use while I was there.

Jim: “Oh… with a country name like Trinidad, you would think that you’d speak some Spanish!”

“Yeah, you would!  But I have basic Spanish skills.”

Jim’s Wife: “So, see you next week?  We can come pick you up, if you want…”  Jim looks a bit uncomfortable but smiles.

“Maybe, but I think I’ll walk! This is a nice neighbourhood. Thanks for the ride. Take care, Jim!”

I stand outside with the doorman watching their little girl wave to me from the back seat as they drive away.

“Crazy, man…this is just crazy.”
“Por que?”, says Jose, the door man from Mexico.
“That man just told me his name was Jim Crow!”
“So what ees so wrong weet dat name?”

I sigh and walk away. I pat Jose on the shoulder as I make my way inside.

“Its a black thing, Jose… I don’t think you’d understand.”

For the duration of my stay, I didn’t go back to Church.

I never saw the Jamaicans or the Crows again.

I do regret not going to the Hispanic Church though! I’m sure that would’ve been something!

When I look at the image of the man getting rammed by the American flag, it brings to mind the challenges the Obamas must undoubtedly have to face during their long election campaign.

Colin Powell said that he didn’t run for US President because his wife expressed fear for his life. Had he done so, I wonder what sort of campaign the Democrats would have mounted against him?  I’d like to think that it certainly wouldn’t be anything as bad as what Fox and the Republicans (and Billary, Jeremiah Wright and Jesse Jackson) have tried to do to Barack and Michelle Obama.

[Pic: Ask Men]

Let’s think about it for a second.

Colin Powell is the man that handed out cans of whoop ass to Saddam in Operation Desert Storm.  He wasn’t just a soldier, he was a GENERAL, and the history making Chairman of the freakin’ Joint Chiefs of Staff.   Brother man was also the first African-American Secretary of State.  To wit, all of this was achieved under conservative leaning REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTS (George Bush I and II).

Yet, people STILL wrote hate mail when he merely contemplated running for President on a Republican ticket…

One thing’s for certain…

If Jesse Jackson was really serious about cutting Obama’s nuts off, he has to get a HUUUGE knife.

Balls that size don’t come along everyday.

Oh… and in case you were wondering…

…Jim Crow really sucked.

Peace and Much Love.

jw.

[ps: thanks for the slideshow, Frolin]



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