Thanks for distracting me from vacation.
Just before I headed off for a nice long and long overdue vacation, Gen Sec of the SDMS (a local Hindu organization) Sat Maharaj called former PM Patrick Manning a racist for the closure of Caroni. I didn’t flinch. I have read enough to know that the closure of Caroni had little to do with race and more to do with economics. As Raffique Shah’s says in the this commentary:
“The approximately $3.5 billion (cash and land) given to Caroni workers was the biggest severance package ever in T&T. Not a tear was shed and no sugar community collapsed.”
I was determined to do a bit of detoxing so although I had wifi access everywhere I went, I decided to unplug and drain my online arteries of all of the social media consumption I do on a daily basis. And in any case when you’re out here on these internet streets for work and not just for personal reasons (like asking about tips for repurposing old food cans) sometimes you really don’t want to see that blue-Facebook banner.
But. My. Lord. Jeezan ages between Trini news and these Olympic Games??
Here are the top 3 stories that threatened to destabilize my placid moments. Important distractions all of them…You can decide for yourself, based on the length of this post, whether it worked or not.
But first, I’ll start with number 4.
NBC’s piss poor coverage of the 31st Edition of the Olympic games will not even earn a place on my list. I recently equated it to reheating a combo box of cold fast food and serving it on fine china.
Please don’t serve me that crap and call it sports coverage — We are in the year of our Lord 2016!
It is no longer ‘possible’ to live-stream any world event — it is now second nature reality. Breaking news (including sports news) is all over the net within seconds. I don’t have to wait for 6 hours to watch a repeat. So why is NBC showing pre-packaged repeats and trying to make me wait till midnight to watch something that is basically the cold fast food of sports coverage? And talk about hyping it up as though this is the freshest…really?
There was one time they got it right though…
2. SHAUNAE MILLER and the 242 ARMY.
I’ve been to the Bahamas. Guys, beautiful is an understatement. Ethereal is a little more like it. And the people are really genuine; great hospitality is not just at the multi-million dollar industry level.
But when Shaunae Miller decided to dive/ swan dive/ reach over/ stretch over/ collapse across/ vault / catapult/ human-javelin herself across that finish line in the women’s 400m to literally snatch that gold medal off of Allyson Felix’s neck, ALL of the couple hundreds of thousands of my Bahamian cousins came out, stopped playing nice guy and were ready for to back her up.
It seems to be official and unanimous; not only is the Commonwealth of the Bahamas happy to accept that Gold medal, but they are about to name a street after their girl Shaunae. At least that’s what this morning when I tuned in to I ZSR 103.5FM — Earl the Pearl’s Show.
These were direct quotes. LOL I can’t even!
“Shaunae’s victory Proves to the world that we can hold our best and finest. That’s the way the game is played….Well deserved”
“It was a proud moment yesterday” She was amazing, she is majestic…her stride…is she married? She wore the colors so beautifully. She was out front running away with it and all the commentators had to say was here comes Allyson Felix.”
And my PERSONAL FAVE:
“God just had a way…he just lifted here over the line”
At the end of the day, Bahamians are asking two valid questions: Where was Twitter in 2008 when my cousins were DENIED their bronze medal? Secondly, would you have cried bloody foul if Justin Gatlin did the same thing on Sunday night?!
“Don’t come for Shaunae! And don’t come for the 242!”
You know, I think I LOVE it.
In my view, the collective views of a country toward an athlete’s helps shape that person’s performance and the world view of the athlete. Bahamians love their Shaunae. Your countrymen and women will either hoist you to fame with love and exuberance or they will pull out the pitchforks and pummel you into the ground. Which brings me to:
3. MISS MARISSA DICK
(I decided I’d sprinkle some respeck on her name since some of us are just doing the MOST…the things I’ve seen and heard!).
Miss Dick qualified for the Rio Olympics under tenuous and negatively charged circumstances. It was not an easy ride and it’s a matter that will eventually be heard before the courts. From national newspapers to social media campaigns Miss Dick had a lot on her plate from the start.
Her performance in the Olympics this year had me losing my gymnastics-armchair-official-mind. Among the mediocre scores (13.900 on the vault, 12.533 on the floor routine and 11.333 on the bars) Miss Dick fell off the parallel bars. The dismount was beyond sloppy — I was so traumatised I almost lost my dinner.
Granted: It was messy by any standard.
I don’t know that she can blame anyone more than her management team. Someone should’ve slipped her a note complete with a set a bibliography and appendices proving that Trinidad’s Facebook streets are infinitely more dangerous than any block. From mayoral resignations, to corporate retractions, calling out shady journalists and lambasting politicians and causing electoral upheavals, whether you agree with the tide on every issue or not, on social media we shut. it. DOWN. Trini Facebook always has the receipts. (Sidebar: Oh hey, I stand with Thema).
That said, I’m not sure that I’m on the “#DickItUp” train. I’m generally a flexible person, but I am worse than the worst performances of any of those gymnasts. (Consider this: that balance beam is FOUR INCHES wide, allyuh!) I did NOT, and still DO NOT appreciate the way in which Miss Dick was selected to represent us. But once you don that red, white and black I am going to respect what you represent (even though the colours you actually wanted to wear was the red maple leaf and white *smirk*) Yeah…I hear you. You are just as patriotic because you are defending your country… but you’re also mad at the US for the way they’re treating Gabby Douglas? We’re treating this girl like she’s Becky with the good hair. Why we so?
3. COLFIRE. COL.FIRE. Colonial Fire and General Insurance Company Limited.
I just had to drop it like that because there is no way to smoothly segue into this next repulsion.
This is the LAST week of my vacation. I am supposed to be easing into my regular schedule.
But here comes another ultra important distraction: the calendar flipped to 1916. Black hair is bad hair all over again. Natural hair is only acceptable if it is type 1A as opposed to 4C. (because ofc straight hair must be number one, right?) Private companies are threatening their employees to comply with racist conventional norms of what is professional hair.
This young man:
Was sent this letter:
And then we were forwarded this memo:
Here is where I have a problem. I have done business with this Company for years. I have no problem with Mr. Ramirez’s hair. I take issue with them suggesting that his hair is “improper professional grooming”. I have hair that is similarly styled as Mr. Ramirez’s. Would COLFIRE turn down my business if I showed up to their office with my hair similarly groomed? Have they sent any letters to other male staff who have gel slicked hair but straight hair types?
I find it discriminatory and unjust.
We now know that the young man has been sent on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation and that Colfire has asked its staff to post some positive things about their job. REALLY?
COLFIRE’s social media pages have been DROWWNNDING in a massive ocean of public angst and for good reason, although from prior experience of social media management, I am waiting to see how they strategize their way out of this hole. You have to see the learning opportunities here.
We have seen way too many instances of unjust and discriminatory practices to people of all backgrounds who have simply been bullied into silence. It’s good that people are upset. And it’s good that people aren’t silent. We have seen people turn a blind eye to the pain of others simply because it’s not happening in their immediate circle. Lemme remind you: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. MLK Jr said so.
Now that I’m done being distracted from an almost-over-vacation… where’s my beach hat?