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Book 3. The Vigil…Continued

Book 3. The Vigil…Continued

The road between Western Cemetery #1 and #2 (also known as “dead mans corner”) was now jammed with cars, but I managed to find a spot by “French Town Gate #1” and resisted tarrying to read inscriptions and to wonder. I was going to an event that might exhaust even my ability to wonder (although I don’t think it’s likely that anything could exhaust my ability to wonder, I was just trying to make the point that there would be much to wonder at and about, much and mucho much)

At the entrance stairs a really large and kindly man (an official greeter I suspect) reached down and clasped his hands over and around mine and said in a gravitas but empathetic tone “Thank you for coming” I thought about his size and manner and concluded that being large was importantly reassuring in a setting like this, and I appreciated the safety and security that it might represent to one if one were traveling through the valley of the shadow. God bless God, but if I were strolling through the valley of the shadow, I think I would be very grateful if the lord sent a big fellow along to be my traveling companion.

 Inside I was greeted by another brother of the good fellow gone.

This one with his wild curly red hair, is my friend and a good and interesting gent all around. Next, I spoke to the eldest of the brothers, a class mate of mine in kindergarten and then again in the seventh grade at Saints Peter and Paul, the local Catholic school. These brothers and the entire family represent an extraordinary group of people that have played and continue to play an important central role in the extraordinary mix of people that make up the population of the Virgin Islands.

 (I could have easily said Virgin Island society using it in an elitist way, or said “The social demographic of the Virgin Islands” and that would be partially accurate too, but it’s more than that. These are remnants of a European, African, West Indian mix a true Kalaloo of color and background. A Euro-Afro Creole Culture a graceful taste of the human race with probably no more accurate descriptor  available than Virgin Islander, or Virgin Islands Creole.

 This family’s Patriarchs and name originally came from Scotland, their Matriarchs, Jewish, Irish, Dutch, Danish, German and African. A real wedding of graces.

 While the states were busy with their crazy crazy mismanagement of racial relationships, the West Indies were busy demonstrating what was possible when strength met strength and beauty met beauty.

The horror that the people of the Danish West Indies had of America purchasing the Islands (The U.S. tried and failed three times through the centuries, before successfully closing the deal in 1917) was that the United States would impose their hateful racial policies on people and families that were imagined, conceived, born, living and loving one another, outside of the crazy cruel miscegenation laws of a racist America.

 When it became clear the transfer was going to happen, families (fearing that all the adults would be put in jail) fled by the ship load for Denmark and France, The Dutch West Indies and South America, anywhere away from America’s hateful and backward laws against inter-racial marrage.

 To America’s credit the congress resisted imposing its cockamamie miscegenation laws on the already multiracial people of the Virgin Islands, and has avoided any official policy of racial segregation or racial preference. However, the deeply embedded (often unconscious) racist customs and prejudices of individual Americans (white AND black) have had an awful and unfortunate impact on the Virgin Islands and its people…

 But not tonight, and not in this room,..At least not much.

Every imaginable shade of skin color is represented here. The pesent Matriarch of the family, is herself a golden child A strong but wise and gentle Mother of a rainbow of Scots Africans. With Africa in the mix, you not only get hair and eye color variations but hair, eye and skin tone variety.

 As noted earlier, one of the brothers has wild red hair and Viking eyes atop the perfect tan, another brother is as white as Dover with long brown hair and brown Celtic eyes. The two others came with the physical size and constitution of the Kings of the Highland Games and the dispositions of men amused by the antics of the mere mortals around them.

 Because the family is a well liked and influential one, many people are coming to pay their respects. Most visitors are in the light to mid range quarters of the color wheel, but there are a number of darker skinned folks. Many of them are cousins on the African side; some are just close and dear friends of many years standing.

 At the other end of this color continuum are the white folks. They are a minority by far and the least fluid in their flow. In this robust schematic their absence of physical color creates the immediate impression that “something is wrong with them” and I feel a complex of emotions, a compassion for their albino like awkward appearances, a distain for the trouble and suffering they have caused in the world, (perhaps because of their absence of color) their delusions of superiority. Along with an acknowledgement and acceptance of the embarrassment that comes from being one of them, and a further determination to not behave (at any cost) the way that white folks generally do.

 This last one is sort of a double doozy, because there is nothing more embarrassing to me than white people who are behaving like they think black people behave. Which is of course the question and quandary that this group has been living with since God’s colors first ran together..

 Who am I? Who do I identify with? How should I behave? The okeedooky answer is of course “just be yourself” and after ten thousand convoluted confrontations with mockery prejudice and expectations, conditional acceptance, and manipulative disapproval (always designed to reinforce the cockamamie value set of he/she doing the judging) you (if you are fortunate) arrive back at the beginning, you HAVE to “just be yourself” or you are lost. So the trick is how to just be your self in spite of the swirling craziness all around.

T he original reason for designating anyone with any African blood in them as black was so they could be snagged and sold back into slavery. So called white people did that.

Who the hell says that the mottled pink and grey people, who lie about their own color by calling themselves white, are the right people to decide what color anybody else is?

 The whole thing is a lying racist craziness that is alive and well every time anyone with even the most minute amount of Africa in their DNA is automatically classified as black and any mottled splotchy blotchy tricolor mishmash of red pink and grey is seriously considered to be representative of the color white.

I have a radical and revolutionary idea. Suppose we make it official policy that everyone with any amount of Africa (or Romania or Italy or China) in their DNA is automatically classified as a human being, (that would be everyone except perhaps a few drunken Irish, don’t get upset, I come from a long line of drunken Irish, I know what I’m talking about) Or if that’s too complicated, if we insist on continuing to use color as a classification for human beings, how about we get really scientific and use the crayola box as our model for accuracy That will put us all on a color continuum that is at least close to chartruseful Oops, ahh.. I mean useful and truthful.

“Yes my daughter my dear, even though the man IS forty shades of gray with red splops all over him, I’m supposed to teach you to lie and say he’s white. No dear even though anyone can see the lady is very bit as yellow as a ripe banana; we are supposed to pretend not to notice that, and to describe her as black. Why? Because in the shameful history of human beings “de-humanizing” other human beings in order to exploit them, exploiters invented a world of black or white.

And from that time to this we have lived their lie; we have lived their lie so long, that we have lost the clarity and the courage to tell the simple truth about people and what color they really are. It’s racist (actually because there is only one race of humans and that’s the human race, the word “racist” is it’s self invalidated and meaningless, so…) It’s downright “colorist” (a beautiful new concept which has the extraordinary obvious benefit of immeadiately exposing its self as silly and stupid.) Yep, we co-sign a reality based on describing all  colors in the crayon box as either black or white. It’s “colorist” it’s cockamamie, it’s crazy, and incontestably downright dishonest and stupid… Continued

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