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Entries Tagged 'Musings' ↓

Signs of the Times

Since it is the capital of Canada, Ottawa has a lot of Museums. I have visited none of them. However, their signs do lend themselves to humor once you take them out of context.

With that in mind, enjoy the following:

To Civilization!
Memo from Canada to the third world: This way please.

under construction
Just one catch…

Meh seh War!
Do you think we can we get rid of this one in 2009?

No changes

And although it seems heaven sent
We ain’t ready, to see a black President
Tupac Shakur

They might be ready now.

In a few hours, assuming there isn’t a repeat of the drama of 2000, it should be clear whether or not the United States will elect a black man as President for the first time in its history. Judging from the polls and from all that I have heard it seems likely that Barack Obama will indeed win.

But I’m not here to talk to Americans about their own business. I’m not an American citizen so I can’t even cast a vote. However, as the United States is presently the most powerful and the most wealthy nation on the face of the earth, their election result will have an effect on the rest of the world. This is what I want to discuss.

Michael Parenti, in his book Democracy for the Few, describes the US election process as “the greatest show on Earth.” This time, however, they really have outdone themselves. This show has gone on for years. From the early speculation about who would run for the Democratic nomination to the long battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the last minute wild-card insertion of Sarah Palin, there has been no shortage of drama. However the lesson Parenti wants you to draw from all the political pyrotechnics is that it’s all a diversion.

Did you ever wonder how a country as massive as the United States can only have two parties? That in a country with 305 million people there are only two choices? Well unbeknownst to the majority of Americans, they do have more choices. Have you heard about the Green Party presidential candidate, a black woman named Cynthia McKinney? What about Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr, and Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader? Yes. I’m not making this up, they are all running for President of the United States today along with Obama and McCain. Why haven’t you heard about these people? Simply put, they have been made invisible by design.

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Looking in the Mirror

Who am I? Bahamians are a sensitive lot when it comes to identity. I am one of the foremost sufferers from this anxiety of being. This comes from my mulatto / mangra / light brown skin.

As it stands the Bahamian identity is constructed as black, ghetto and male. This construction ignores, deliberately I believe, the 20 percent or so of the country that happen to be white. I have inadvertently asked a few white Bahamians “so, where are you from?” It’s polite conversation with a tourist but it’s the surest, most direct way to insult a native.

To be called white in the Bahamas is another way to say that you do not belong. Those who don’t belong are tourists. Visitors. Just passing through. Seaweed. Driftwood. In Nassau the quickest insult is usually to call me “white boy”. Hit a shot on the basketball court and I will hear “buhy! You let white-boy-archah score on you” or something to that effect. They know that I’m not white, but my skin-color places me in a liminal space. I’m not white, but to their minds I’m not black enough.

This color line is tricky. It’s no where near as rigid as the “one drop” rule that governs blackness in the United States. The Bahamian black/white line is a fluid boundary that varies in different islands and even in different settlements / villages on the same island. For example on the same island of Eleuthera, I am read as black in Tarpum Bay and white in Lower Bogue.

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The passing of my Grandmother

It was a nice funeral.

In the Bahamas we have this strange habit, and I don’t know how many other societies do this, where we let the body repose. This basically means that the dead body is made up to go on display and just sits there in the coffin.

This is seriously freaky shit. The coroner basically becomes a taxidermist. Sometimes they make the face look all rubbery and fat and they put on too much make up. In this case, with my grandmother, who died in December, they made her up so that she looked like she was still alive. I swear that I saw her breathe.

Why they do this, I will never know or understand.

The service was interesting. Nice, as they say. This was the first time that I stepped foot inside a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall since I left that religion five years ago. Nothing had changed. Nothing but the paint on the walls and some of the plants lining the driveway, but that same feeling was there.

I felt a lot of eyes on me though. Judging, probing eyes looking for flaws. It’s so awkward now.

Mum had converted to Jehovah’s Witness in her later years, I’m not sure exactly when. Let’s say the last fifteen years or so. At the time, I was one of them too, so it was a happy day when she got baptized.

When I left the church, she never cut me off like the others did. She always said she was praying for me everynight and when I grew my hair and braided it she never liked it, but at least she talked to me.

Somehow she found a way to stay in the JW church and get her cake too. Birthday cake that is. As JW’s aren’t supposed to celebrate birthdays or Easter, or Christmas or just about anything, she was able to keep one foot in the door and the other with her ‘worldly’ family till she died. A real smart woman. I still wonder why she converted. I wonder what her reasons were. Guess I can only speculate now.

Even after all this time, I still don’t know what to feel. Death is a funny thing. To get through a day of this life we build up walls of clichés, throwing around little stock phrases to stand for actual thought, to simulate actual feeling. Death breaks that wall down and leaves you as you really are. Naked, alone and afraid.

I never know what to say at funerals. I never know what to do. All I have is a terminated relationship and a hell of a lot of questions. Could I have done more? The answer is always yes. Did I ever want to?

That one takes a bit longer to answer.

The Game of life

tetris.gif Been playing a Tetris style game* a little bit recently, and it struck me what a nice metaphor it is for life.

The game starts off slowly as you gradually get the hang of the falling pieces, fitting them into each other, while you try to make something solid out of it all. In essence the game says, ‘deal with this random-ness,’ which also seems to be one of life’s main messages. What makes the game such an apt metaphor is that you don’t really know what’s coming next, except for the very next brick. Life, of course, gives no such warning. This ‘not knowing’ makes the game both fun and frustrating as you could be waiting a long time for that ideal piece to complete the structure you started…

“If only that long one would fall!”

How many times has that happened to you? You wait and wait for something particular, something you always wanted to fit into a certain space in your life, all while you are still keeping up with what is relentlessly falling on top of you. Sometimes that special piece never comes, or as it happens, when you have finally given up on it ever appearing, then it decides to show up.

The game speeds up the better you get at it, unlike life, which seems to follow its own capricious rhythm – which for me always seems to be at that breakneck, trying-to-kill-you pace. But you just have to deal with it, and get stuff done, taken care of, make it disappear, because if you don’t, stuff just piles up on top of you until you can’t take it anymore, have a nervous breakdown, and well, have to start the game over.

If only it were as easy to start life over as it is the game. In some ways it is and in many ways it isn’t. Depends on how enslaved you are to the particular game you’re playing.

 


* More correctly, I’m playing a Tetris-like game that came with my mobile phone, called QuadraPop, but it follows the same principle as Tetris and has essentially the same gameplay.