at the risk of seeming ridiculous…

sign of the times.

Posted in written thoughts by Charles on May 8, 2010

“no braiding, no bbq-ing, no drumming”

this is one of many signs hung up around marcus garvey park in harlem, nyc.

it wasn’t too long ago that a sign limited the kinds of people who were “allowed” to drink from certain water fountains.  i would assume that there were many more “white only” signs than “colored only”… probably forcing colored folk to walk much further for a drink.  it’s a dark chapter in american history.  i mean, isn’t it heinous to take something so elemental to life and control its fluidity through arbitrary divisions… all because of the belief that privilege abides by color?  but sadly, many would like to believe that this dark chapter is self-standing, it’s own finished story.  hey, we have a half-black president… post-raciality we grasp!

but this is no finished story.  this is a chapter.  one juxtaposed next to past, present and future chapters that all indicate a master narrative… that certain folk will always fall by the wayside.  that power is in the hands of those wealthy blue-eyed folk who mask their presence with an illusory veil.  and the rest, well, we have to hitchhike rides from those who would be “kind” enough to bring us along for the ride… that is, until their convenience is tested.

i’m a big believer in hope.  that we see glimpses of that-which-we-can-be.  but i also know that these are glimpses.  what is more real is the struggle… the challenge… the reality of oppression.  it is from these tumultuous grounds that we must learn to resurrect the dream.  but never forgetting that there is a tint of blue.

marcus garvey was a radical black nationalist.  he fought believing that freedom can arise in his people.  and an expression of this freedom… is the freedom to be.  to create culture.  to create a community.  to create.  create who you are, who you want to be, who your community is, what your dreams are…  to create.  to be alive, to be a living, breathing agent in a world, a society marked by coercive constraint.

now i wonder… what would he think walking through his own park today?  how would he feel seeing the new complexes displace his people?  how vast would his anger be seeing those signs that prohibit the very things that made his park what it was?

i would imagine him asking:

how is this any different than “white only”?


One Response

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  1. sam said, on May 9, 2010 at 01:36


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