FMM 2 17 2023 Meet me at the Crossroads

You may bury my body down by the highway side. So my old evil spirit can catch a Greyhound bus and ride.” ~Robert Johnson.

There is something about music that transports us.  Last Saturday I was visiting Atlanta, and in one day experienced three distinct genres of music.  I drove with my daughter-in-law to get a pedicure, and drove through countryside that could have been somewhere in rural England.  Perhaps it was the persistent drizzle, that grey dampness that softly moisturizes in a very fine mist.  I remembered reading that the Native Americans talk about ‘male rain’ and ‘female rain’.  Male rain is the type that falls down in torrents, lashing you with large, cold sheets of water.  Female rain softly nourishes, whispering gently as it floats to the ground.

But back to the music.  The radio was tuned to an oldies station, rock classics from the 80s and 90s, back when I was a young mother in Miami.  When we went into the nail salon, the music on the giant TV was pure hip-hop, again from the 80s and 90s, reminding me of the music my kids would listen to.  These were the more parent-friendly songs, not the harsh consciousness raising sounds of gangsta rap.  My daughter recently reminded me of the time I heard her listening to a profanity-laced rap song and I roared out of my room telling her that was not music!

But the event for which I needed a pedicure was in the evening. And that was a purely Jamaican affair, reggae music from the 70s, 80s and 90s, with King Waggy T at the controls.  It was a wedding anniversary for a couple who had met in a Miami Club (the Hungry Whale) where Waggy was the resident DJ.  I had never heard of the club, perhaps because it was in the South West of Miami, while I was living in the North West at the time.  Jamaicans had migrated to Miami in waves, the first wave being the wealthier businesspeople who had fled Michael Manley’s socialist leaning government, with their wealth stuffed into teddy bears and wigs (so it has been said). 

But my day embodied my life, that weird mixing of music and cultures that has informed and illustrated my world.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Last week I wrote of the craziness of living in a state that seems to think that history should be white-washed to spare the feelings of the descendants of those responsible for the inhumanity of slavery and the cruelty of wiping out the indigenous people they found on this beautiful land.  But they wish to do so much more than that.  They want people to remain ignorant, holding on to myths and legends that are founded in lies.  Driving back down from Georgia I saw a billboard advertising a law firm that is willing to fight ‘woke’ corporations.  What does that even mean?  We are living in a state where the governor says ‘woke comes to die’, turning a word which represents being aware of injustice to a dog whistle, invoking distrust and discrimination.

But I am happy to report that this week, ‘woke’ woke up and marched on Tallahassee.  And following that beautiful law, the one of unintended consequences, our governor has brought together a cross-section of society who are willing to march and rally against his actions.  There is a word that has been coined that describes this: intersectionality. This describes the place where people who may seem to have nothing in common (ethnic minorities; feminists; members of the LGBTQ community) face a common foe together, and thus unite.  The Department of Education in Florida rejected the AP African American studies course, which it deems either has no historic value, or contains lies.  Which is ironic of course, since the version that would be approved by the governor’s team would no doubt be full of lies and misinformation. 

It comes to something when great African American authors have their books banned.  Is it not enough that Zora Neale Hurston died a pauper, now her legacy is besmirched by ignorant people who would tell you what your kids can and cannot read. 

We live in a country that was founded on a lie, one which claims that a European discovered this land, one which was already occupied.  It should make anyone uncomfortable to read, watch or hear the stories of murder and pillaging that helped the Europeans establish control over the country.  It should be hard to watch depictions of the mass transportation of Africans packed like animals into the bowels of ships to be delivered into enslavement in the ‘colonies’.  It should make you angry to see the reality of Jim Crow, the treatment of people of color by those whose skins were white.  It should make you want to close your eyes and turn away as some mother’s son is gunned down, or beaten to death, or killed by the knee of a white officer in the 21st century.  It is supposed to make you feel bad, so that you will do whatever you can to bring about meaningful change.

Because of the pathway my life has taken, the majority of readers of my blog are people of color, many of whom grew up in Jamaica like I did.  But I can only hope that I can reach a wider audience, one that may not have had the firsthand experience of seeing the impact of systemic racism in a country which proudly claims to be ‘out of many, one’.  A country which believes that the American dream is within reach of everyone, so long as they just work hard enough. White privilege allows many white people to be unaware of the handicaps which must be overcome by Black and Brown people before they can even begin to aim for that dream.  For example, the ‘redlining’ practice in the 60s ensured that minorities would be unable to buy homes in the ‘better’ neighborhoods, to improve educational opportunities for their kids.

This Friday morning I am hoping that we are standing at a cross-roads, one where many disparate communities can meet and find a way forward which includes all Americans.  I wish more people would recognize and acknowledge that Black History is American History, and that there is room for everyone in this great big melting pot.  And I wish that those who believe that staying ‘unwoke’ is a good thing, will be blessed with an enlightening experience, which will open their eyes to the truth, even though it may offend at first. 

Have a wonderful weekend, Family!

One Love!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: