Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Colin Powell: Contradictions of Success?

For Africans in America Colin Powell is pretty much the embodiment of success. He is the
American Dream
come true. That is even moreso for West Indian immigrants in North America; the new arrivals, first, second, third and fourth generations all.

But the contradiction of realisation of that dream and being a conscious descendent of African slaves in the Americas is what Colin Powell represents more than anything else. If he has a conscience and he is aware or has not blanked out his people's history...that man in my opinion had some seriously hard times in the last four years or so. The weight of his opinion and voice has been significantly reduced from Bush Snr. to Bush Jnr. He knows now that he was used as bait, as a vote getting gimmck in the first Bush Jnr election. I wonder how he feels now?

Powell does not seem to be like Rice or Clarence Thomas who appear to have erased the past, the history of Africans in the Americas, a long time ago, to get along and get on. The
is one of the biggest prerequisite to achieving success for African Americans, in any important American institutions, such as the Army, the Cabinet, without going completely crazy or geting sick from stress and other related diseases.

Does Powell suffer from hypertension, colon, prostate cancer etc? I never heard any of those health issues mentioned in regard to him. If he does not this man must be one strong person or maybe he is exactly as Belafonte described him a few years ago,a serious
Uncle Tom.

Hmmmn..... I wonder if Alma had to write a book ... her memoires being the wife of the dutifull and loyal American servant...what she would tell in it?

Interesting people these.... but one can only speculate because unfortunately you rarely ever get to know the true story, see the real picture.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

PBS is da BOMB!

Recently I realised that my most satistfying tv viewing has been provided by PBS. Yes PBS!

Well last night I turned on my now favourite channel and was presented with a wonderful treat. Wynton Marsalis , a cutie :) and Ken Burns producer of historical films such as the American Civil War, Baseball and Jazz were on. They were talking about the film Jazz.

Well being able to drool all over Wynton would be good enough but like all PBS programs I have watched I learnt quite a lot. My appreciation for Jazz and Louis Armstrong grew ten fold last night. I never really paid much attention to Jazz, I guess it never really grabbed me. Then I absoultely had no respect for Louis Armstrong. I always thought he was waist-bent-watermelon-smiling-negro. Not even seeing his clip where he totally tore up some song about Dina in Carolina helped.

But Marsalis and Burns used words like genius and transforming and central to describe this man. They spoke of his God given gift and how he was basically the center piece of all Jazz. Yah through their conversation on the film, it was possible to see Charlie Parker beyond the heroin addicted jazz musician...it was possible to give Jazz and jazz muscians a second chance.

I will one day purchase Burn's 19-hour documentary film on Jazz. Until then I will pay more attention when I hear a jazz artist...maybe really listen to Billie and Ella. Thanx for the education and entertainment PBS.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bad Things Happen When Good People Stand by and Do Nothing

As I watched the local news on Friday I came to the conclusion that something is fundamentally wrong with Dominicans as a whole! Why such a dramatic statement? Well I am about to tell you about it.

A news item featured the preparation of the national table tennis team for a regional tournament. The alarming thing to me is that a certain drug dealer, with a well known criminal history especially of introducing young women to the drug underworld here, was interviewed as the Vice President of the Dominica Table Tennis Association.

I had to ask how does that happen in a small society like ours where societal disapproval should be enough to prevent undesirables like this man to officially and publicly gain access to position of importance. How did we get to this, where the local tv station would even do an interview with this man?

We have become very accepting here of low standards of behaviour, low standards generally. We seem to be a ppl who just accept anything. Parents don't complain about the poor offerings at our schools, voters ask nothing of politicians and we buy sub-standard imports but mostly a lot of good people and people who know better do not get invovled.

My generation of professionals in their thirties and forties do next to little community and volunteer work. At least not at the level that it used to be before. I remember the teachers were also the Sunday school teachers and the local/lay preacher would be coach for the cricket team. Now my generation does not get invovled. We don't share our talents beyond the boundaries of our workplace. Our only concern is our family and career.

So there is a void left that the drug dealer type can so easily step into. He well be happy we are not there b/c he has better and unobstructed access to young minds. He can impress them with his financial sponsorship. He will be their role model. We the people who should be involved are just watching, sleep walking as if this has nothing to do with us or our children in the future. Mind you it is us who will ask in the loudest voices, what has become of our peaceful and tranquil society. Well bad things happen when good people stand by and do nothing.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Life's Calling: Part II-A Response to Jdid

Right now one of my niece is preparing for her A'levels and I am not convinced she is doing the righ t subjects. She is doing the sciences Physics, Biology and Maths. She thinks her future lies in some sort of engineering. She is adamant it is but she is only 17 and has little clue about what the world has to offer. I think that she is a brilliant writer and that is what she should pursue but she aint listening at all. I hope I am wrong and she is one of those people who just knows.
But I have experienced life and university and our education system here. That is where the pigeon-holing starts. You show a little bit of promise academically and you are forced into the applied sciences. A wider scope, diverse possibilities are just not part of our systems. I guess we can't afford it.

I was so amazed that on my trip to Kenya a few yrs ago that I met two Swiss girls just out of high school travelling Kenya by themselves. And they were already confident globe trotters much more than I. I think that those girls will find something they really enjoy doing in life and wont settle for a field b/c it is expected and/or safe etc. They will also have the confidence to change mid stream if what they are doing does not hit the mark at first. They already know first-hand that there is so much going on in this world.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Life's Calling

It would appear that most people have no clue what they were called to do. I mean what is it that you would pay to get up and go do every morning including Sundays? I don't think most people know what that is and even those who know are not lucky to be doing it.

The irony of all this is that the few people who acutally know what their calling in life is and are lucky enough to actually do it as their life's work are often financially well-off because of it. If they are not stinky rich they just feel they are in the best place anybody can ever be. Their life is rich in all ways if not materially.

Of the people who know defintely what work/occupation would make them happy and totally fulfilled I wonder how many stumble upon it by sheer coincidence? How many just always knew that that was it? Does a liberal arts university education help in that or it is a diverse curriculum even from primary school? Does it have to do more with how broad one's experiences are pre adulthood?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Faceless Black Art

It is striking that most art produced by black artists of black adults, except in photography, do not have detailed facial representations. Look around and you will see what I mean.

It is curious that from wood sculptures to paintings the details of the black face is omitted in general. There may be full lips, sometimes a distinctly African nose but the eyes nearly always are left out. It is unusual to find all the facial features displayed all together, unless distorted, exaggerated.

Most often the artist gives splendid representations of the rest the body and to scale too. For male subjects the detail is tremendous, sinewy muscles everywhere, slim waist of smallest measurements and ample ass to boot. Black women are depicted almost amazon-like but defintely curvaceous, breast, hips and ass always prominent .

Why are there so few real faces? Why is so little attention paid to the face? Black kids in art are not treated the same and so it is not about poor black artist and artisans.

Maybe it is as a result of slavery, that issues surrounding the adult black body became so overpowering that the face is forgotten. Maybe the face has never been the emphasis because we subconsciously believe there is little that is redeeming or appealing about it? Or is it that we have learnt not to look into adult eyes, really examine black faces that have experienced some living? Too much blues in those faces to wade through, too much pain to face (no pun intended) ?

Hmmmmn....... I wonder.......

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Real Implications of a Winning West Indies Team

Quote Mark Alleyne: ["James Pearson is a good cricketer, England Under-19. He's struggling. He comes in, puts the CD on and he's just waiting for someone to say, `that's rubbish'. And he loves Lara and West Indies. The more he goes on about them, the more he's going to be isolated."]
2004/AUG/015697_ WCM_04AUG2004.html

The above quote was taken from a piece done with Alleyne and Piper, two black British cricketers in the article “What Happened to the Black Cricketer?” James Pearson the U-19 black cricketer has been on my mind ever since I read the article. And with the victory on Saturday and the raising of the ICC Championship Trophy by the West Indians I have thought even more about this young man.

I wonder what this win will do for him. Will he be galvanized by stronger self-belief that he can do it too against all odds? Will he know now that all he has to do is work hard and it will come? Will his perception of white administrators working against him change? Will the isolation brought on by his admiration of Lara the West Indies intensify or subside? Will he have the company of other inspired black and Indian youth on his team or on other opposition teams?

Are the West Indies players and the WICB aware of what is at stake if they continue to under-perform in international cricket? It is not just how much winning means to adult West Indians in Britain and at home but what it means to the future of the young cricketer in the West Indies and those in Britain in particular of West Indian heritage.

James Pearson now has a little something to hold on to but it wont last for very long. For young cricketers like Pearson to be able to hold their heads up and deflect the barbs of lazy, instinctive and brainless, West Indies must continue to do well if not win. We can’t afford to go back because the James Pearsons will have too little to draw on when they face the obstacles created for them by themselves and others. I hope Lara’s call throughtout the recent tournament, to keep our collective eyes on the prize is not going to be drowned out by the euphoria. WICB has much work to do, work they have either neglected or poorly performed for too long now.

I have seen others ascribe the poor physical and mental state of the West Indian cricketers on male marginalization and the strides made by Caribbean women. That assertion is in my view as pure balderdash of course because the decision makers and power brokers in the Caribbean have always been and continue to be majority male.

Here is another example where the outlook, attitude and chance of success of future West Indian and British cricketers of West Indian heritage, lay squarely in the hands of mainly male West Indians. I look on to see if the almost exclusively male cricketing West Indies fraternity of players and administrators will squander yet another opportunity to take up their responsibility to build for a brighter future for all of us but mostly for male West Indians of this generation and the next, at home and abroad.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Was Merv Right?

For about a year now I have learnt to dislike Mervin Dillon the player and the small part of the person I think I know . Why you may ask? Well I used to be okay with Merv the player until I realised that especially with his limited skills that he had done little to improve his craft. Merv could not bowl a slower ball, or move the ball and he could barely produce a yorker. That the most experienced bowler on the team could not bowl at the death of an ODI match got my goat. Merv has no idea how much "chueeeeps" I have directed at him.

He also appeared to laugh about everything, even his long stream of crappy performances. I would think this nonchalant man child has no idea does he? Absolutely no freaking understanding of his role. He has no heart, Mervin Dillon is just going through the paces. The last straw though none of my business was the reports that he had beat up on his wife. This is something that lowers a man in my estimation, like few other transgressions.

But why given all my negative perception, would I think that Merv could be right about anything? Amazingly, tonight, right at this moment, I think that Dillon's decision not to play through injury in the recent match against South Africa in the ICC championship Trophy was really ballsy.

I must state though when it was reported that Dillon had sustained a side strain and had withdrawn last minute from the team, the red flags flew up. Here we go again I thought, that no heart business. My perception of Mervin the quitter was not helped as the Ozzie commentator laid into Dillon for his decision not to play. He explained Merv was one of the best bowlers and that he should play injured for his team, for his country.

My red flags came flying up, right at attention. Here he goes Mr. No Commitment Dillon again. The Ozzie riffled off names of stars who had played with injuries after getting injections he said. But tonight after seeing "Real Sports" the HBO sport magazine program, more specifically the segment titled "playing with pain" and I was proud of Dillon the player for the first time in more than a year. He is still not a player I would tell any young bowler to pattern himself after except in this one aspect.

What is "playing with pain" all about? It detailed the lives of two ex-athletes who had become addicted to pain killers. The players started taking pain killers in order to play with injury, taking it on the chin for the team. Is it that the relentless win at all cost culture of professional sports does not exist in West Indies cricket? If that is so, is it a bad thing, a blessing? Or is it that Dillon's lack of intensity automatically protects him from this particular problem? Maybe it is an individual thing which has nothing to do with West Indies cricket culture. We have heard tales of players like Collins hiding injury and Edwards his brother coming back too soon after injury. From what I saw tonight though, whatever the reason for Dillon's withdrawal, I am indeed happy he decided not to play injured. So for this, I think Dillon is right.

It is these wholesome attitudes towards injury management that we must endeavor to build into West Indian sports/cricket culture as we simultaneously push towards professionalism and premier international standards. This is as critical as the adoption of technology into all our processes. Let us consider ourselves as fortunate that we don't have to learn these lessons the hard way. Others have already done that for us.

[Real Sports: Playing with Pain: Chronic injuries are common in the high-speed, high-impact world of professional and collegiate sports, and the pressure to play through the pain is intense. Athletes seek pain-numbing cortisone shots to get them off the training table and rely on prescription pills to keep themselves going through long and exacting seasons. Still, the pain often continues long after the season has ended and before long, pills are no longer sufficient. That's when some athletes turn to alcohol or illegal drugs to ease the suffering. Correspondent Bernard Goldberg talks to several athletes who have found themselves on a perilous road to drug abuse that started with a routine injury. Correspondent: Bernard Goldberg.http://www.hbo.com/realsports/stories.shtml]

Sunday, September 19, 2004


The sad news reached me yesterday that a young man of about 25 years decided to out his light in a very horrible way. His choice of exit from this world was to jump infront of a moving train. LAWD! I hope it was pain-free, an instant death.

The question remains though; what would cause someone to commit suicide? Does it take a special strength to take that fatal and irreversible step? Or is it just pure mental deterioration, a psychological meltdown that is required? I mean everybody has thought about suicide at least once in their lives but how many come remotely close to putting it into action?

Research shows however that those who do pull it off eventually, have had at least one unsuccessful practice run. Since this young man did the deed and one has to ask, how he got there? I figure whatever ailed him was as debilitating as any excrutiatingly painful disease. He must have wanted desparately to get away from the pain.

From what I know of this young man, he was brilliant and a homosexual. It also appears that most of his problems were derived from the latter. However to put his troubles with his sexuality in context, it must be known that he spent most of his teenage years in Jamaica.

Being a gay teenager in the Yard caused him lots of heartache and pain. Tough teenage years for any gay kid there, since Jamaicans are renowned for being homophobes. Due to this, his parents on the first opportunity, sent him off to university in North America. They had hoped that a more tolerant society would do the trick. They thought that they had finally given their child an opportuntiy to be his whole self and most of all a chance at happiness. Unfortunately though, it appears the psychological scarring of being a gay teenage boy, in the Yard, was already too deep and permanent for a cosmetic change of environment to really help.

One has to also consider that the new environemt here. I know from first-hand experience if as a young West Indian student one's mental health is not at least average, then a solo move to North America may very well cook your goose. Parents of young West Indians students, often have no clue about what they are sending their usually overprotected children to. They don't know that in North America it is cold not only in terms of the weather and but in terms of social interaction. The cold months are an average nine months of the year and that coupled with the fact that nobody gives a shit whether you are alright, is enough to push a mentally fragile person over the edge.

So this young man still tormented and alone, and searching for a place, called his parents to tell them buh-bye. Worried about what he might do and being all the way in Jamaica they called around frantically asking those who knew him to check on him. No one could find him or knew where he was for hours. The next time they heard news, they were told that he had killed himself by hauling his body into the path of a moving train; Sad beyond words.

Yet as it is with most suicides, this one leaves heartbroken family and friends, racked with guilt and burdened with unanswered questions. I just hope more than anything else though, that this young man has finally found peace.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Old Traditions: The Mystical & Supernatural

How many people remember the old stories about persons who were born with special gifts? And the stories of the scary occurances?

I remember the mysticism that surrounded unusual births; like a child being born with a veil/caul over its face, a breech baby or even twins. The child born with the veil has supernatural powers. They could communicate with the dead and/or see into the future. After reading two books by Tina McElroy Ansa "Baby of the Family" and "The Hand I Fan With" I realise that African people in the USA shared many of those beliefs with old-time Dominicans.

If a baby was born left handed then it would always be protected from obeah spells from others. No socouyants or lougahoo could scare them. The foot first baby from what I remember would be a blessing to its mother in adulthood b/c its birth was far from anything anybody could call a blessing. For twins, I just know that they are viewed with a bit of awe and wonderment. You are just downright special b/c you are connected to another human in ways nobody can explain or understand.

I fall into three of these categories. I am a foot first baby, the side of a twin and I am left handed. I eh know about any of these special powers...my twin brother and I are not as close as I am with my other sibs... as kids we fought on a daily basis.

My left handedness has brougt me frustration more than anything else, especially as a child. My parents at least gave up forcing me into using my right hand as they had done for an older brother but I was made to operate in a right-handed world without adjustments. I could not change the cutlery settings for meals for example...could not switch the sides of the glass or knife and was not allowed to turn my books at weird angles to write either.

Lawd di foot first ting well my mum had twins and then I had to come first and foot first ontop of all that. LAWD! I guess I owe her quite a bit in my adult life then....but it is not for this that I make sure that my mum is well taken care of to the best of my abilities. It is b/c she was a super mum who did wonders in dire circumstances.

Anybody else knows about these things? Maybe if you have an old grandmother around, you should have a go down memory lane with her...see what else they believed in, back then.

I Finally Joined the List of Bloggers

Well I am here......don't know what I am going to do with this blog right now. I suspect I am much better at responding than creating original posts. Well hopefiully I will bring my varied interests to the blog and my postings.