It's been a few weeks since I've been able to really sit at this keyboard and type something that wasn't Carnival related. Although, I have to say that this year's Toronto Caribbean Carnival was a good one (for me personally) because I had the opportunity to work both in my professional field as Publicity Support, and be a spokesperson for the culture on a whole as the Festival Management Committee's Cultural Liaison. For the first time in a long time - a Caribbean face and voice helped to bring the splendour of the Carnival into people's homes as part of the main broadcast on Saturday August 4th, 2012 on CP24, and in my continued effort to be more than just a consumer to the World around me, I feel happy and proud of my contributions this year.
An event of that scope does monopolize one's time and attention, and upon re-emerging from those waters and digesting what has been going on in the World these last 3 to 4 weeks, a part of me wishes I could bury my head in Carnival beads once again - as I shudder in sheer disbelief at how
much more RIDICULOUS the World seems today than just a month ago. One of the things that has me repulsed, is the superficial "hair controversy" pertaining to 16-yr old GOLD MEDALIST Gabby Douglas. Here, we have a young, African-American heroine who is the poster child for perseverance and determination, while members of her OWN race, sat on their couches with their malt liquor in their hands, tweeting jibberish about how her hairstyle was not on point. That she should have represented the Black Community better with a more stylish hairdo sans hairclips. Even days after her phenomenal win, when I caught up on all the online chatter, my own followers disappointed me with ongoing references to her "Buckwheat" hair style.
Another atrocity that I had to face was Star Media Group's decision to immediately suspend publication of Sway Magazine, the premier Black Canadian magazine which I have been a contributor to for 2 years with a popular column called "That's What She Said". The reason (which surprised few), was poor advertising revenue causing the publication to be a drain on SMG. From a business perspective I completely understand the rationale, and if I were John Cruikshank, I would likely have made the same decision. However, from a cultural perspective, the absence of this magazine published by the #1 newspaper in the largest metropolis in the country is a statement that speaks volumes about the current state of the Black community. It is clear that large corporations simply do not value our buying power, which is funny because we eat, shop, and subscribe in record numbers. Where the heck would McDonald's and Coca-Cola be without the Black consumer?
On the heels of a summer that has been marred by terrible gun violence (sadly involving young people of colour in the majority of cases) including the Danzig St. shootings in Scarborough, the Eaton Centre shootings, the Canada Day shooting at Ashbridge's Bay to name a few, the Black community is dealing with the hard reality that all eyes are on us while we both mourn the loss of human life and determine how much we can address ourselves vs. what we need external help with. The innuendos of racism or racial profiling present in the way the Media has often portrayed the Black Community does not help either, made alarmingly clear through my Media Relations work with the Festival formerly known as Caribana (now Toronto Caribbean Carnival) having to address unfounded security risks at an event not even connected to any of the violent crimes of 2012. For weeks, rather than focusing on the economic stimulus or the excitement of Caribbean sights, sounds and food that unite the City for August's long weekend - the Media found every way possible to instil concern of public safety because clearly the root cause of the gun violence is large congregations of Black people. Not the illegal guns themselves, but large groups of Black people.
*count to 10 Nicky, just count to 10*
From the over-Photoshopped pictures of young women with enhanced backsides on Instagram to the public crucifixion of public figures on Facebook, I came back from a 3 week hiatus wondering if the whole World had lost their damn minds. Twitter, which used to be a really fun and effective platform has become nothing more than a blank palette for mindless, drivel where ignorant, talentless people go to fabricate some semblance of worth by criticizing those that actually DO something with their time. Everything good always gets ruined, and often by those who benefit from it the least.
On a different note, I had some time to pull away from personal relationships that were otherwise blinding me. Perspective is an incredible thing, and all too often when we are in the thick of things, we never get any.
I was able to acknowledge that I perpetuated a few one-sided relationships for far too long, because when I needed some support, those that I have moved mountains for continued to be too self-absorbed with their own battles to take time out to celebrate my achievements. And that hurt. And it shall not be happening again. You MUST give what you want in return. At the top of that list is RESPECT.
I often feel like I am a minority within a minority. I am a global thinker who finds myself fighting the battles of the most linear of thinkers. Needless to say, that friction is very frustrating and defeating. I am not afraid to fight the good fight, to do what it takes to elevate the Black Community further in our journey of greatness - but NOT if we're going to criticize a 16-yr old Gold Medallist's hair, NOT if we are going to play into stereotypes about gangs by posing on Facebook with guns in our boxer shorts, NOT if we are going to cause Festival organizers to lose permits because we cannot control our unlawful drinking in unlicensed, public areas just because it's part of a culture from whence we came.
You are not your hair, nor the car you drive, nor the
You are not glamourous make-up, knock-off Louis Vuitton purses or the latest Christian Laboutin heels.
You are not the number of Baby Daddies you have, or how many side chicks you can juggle.
You are not bottle service at the club, or how many trees you burn.
You are the beauty of being low-maintenance and not chasing European ideals.
You are your mother's locket hung from the string of your grandmother's chain.
You are natural beauty, enhanced by affordable, everyday make-up (if need be) so more of the real you shows.
You are comfortable shoes so that you can still walk tall at 95.
You are your children's guidance. You are the love of somebody's life.
You are a tall, refreshing glass of water, the eternal thirst quencher, and if you burn, burn to uplift and not to blow smoke.
You are BLACK, and it is NOT enough to feel pride in our history.
We must also lay the foundation for pride in our future.
Maybe you care that society is well on its way to total self-destruction, or maybe you just care about when you can cop a next pair of Air Yeezy's. Maybe you agree that if things don't change soon, mankind will destroy what little chance we have of enduring even the next 5 generation or maybe you don't even care about what happens beyond your own children. Whatever you believe, we must get ready for something to give, besides - who are we really kidding? We have met the enemy, and he is us.