So, I’ve decided to restart my “Conversations” series. I’ve always found these to be one of the best ways to intimate what every day life is like here.
For those of you who have read the book, you probably noticed that some of the previous conversations relevant to race matters were included. If you’re curious just click on the following link to read some of the conversations I’ve chronicled over the past 4 years: Conversations
Today’s convo was interesting.
I was planning a lesson with a fellow teacher who wanted to know what holidays did “Americans” celebrate in September. I could only think of one off the top of my head: Labor Day. I explained to him what it was…basically a holiday celebrated the first monday of September. Beyond that I had no idea what it was about, typical American. Mainly because in Brooklyn Labor Day means it’s time for our annual bacchanal: The West Indian Day Parade. A celebration of Caribbean culture, music, dance, food, and some awesome elaborate and colorful costumes.
Brooklyn’s own Mardi Gras!
He thought that sounded fascinating and asked if I would teach the class about West Indian Day.
I said cool! That we could probably find some pics and videos from this year’s celebration on the net. While I searched I told him that it’s like a Japanese matsuri in a number of ways.
Once I found a video I took a glance over at him, smiled, clicked play and…
Japanese Teacher: Eeeeeeee!
Me: Yeah, it gets a little racy sometimes too.
JT: (Eyes glued) It looks like a Brazilian festival…
Me: Well, it all cones from Africa anyway, but each country does it a little different. These dancers are from Trinidad and Tobago. And those are Jamaican, and those over there are Haitian…
JT: Wow! You can tell them apart?
Me: The flags are a big hint.
JT: I see…wow, a million people???
Me: Sometimes more. It’s a carnival…like a fertility festival / harvest celebration dating back many centuries.
(Some girl starts wiggling her ass cheeks at the camera)
JT: Eeeee…Chotto Hentai! (A little strange / perverted)
Me: I guess so…Think of it like one of those Japanese matsuri…like that festival when Japanese carry a big penis on their shoulders to some shrine somewhere.
(JT cuts me a look)
JT: It’s not the same…
Me: Sho’ you right… (said with my best Barry White bass)
PS: I used to live on the parade route on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn for 25 years and used to love that I could view it all from above with my family and friends. It was like a family reunion. All the friends I’d ever known would come through or I’d run into them over the course of the day. I haven’t attended for 8 years now.
Maybe next year…