Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jim Crow Attitudes for the New Millennium or Why I Prefer to Identify Myself as Jamaican

As reported on tonight's CBS News, Clinton is currently leading 51% to Obama's 35% among African-Americans. But, lucky him, he's apparently "more palatable and more acceptable to larger numbers of white voters". Apparently to some people, he's the "nice black man" to Clinton's evil b__ch.

Sadly though, poor Obama just can't seem to win. On the one hand, he's seen as "not black enough" - white mother and Kenyan father don't equal really Black to many African-Americans. Which would surprise your average white, city taxi driver making decisions on who to pick up. So, on the other hand, we get classic quotes like this one tonight from an only slightly redneck looking, 30-something representative of dumbf__k America - "I don't want to sound prejudiced or anything, but for one, ahm, I'm not gonna... I don't wanna vote for a colored man for President."

What year is this again and why doesn't the news give quotes from intelligent, thoughtful people?

Monday, November 26, 2007

I've Gotta Do This More Often, Part II

For those of you family and friends who are interested, you’ll be excited to hear that I actually got hit on, in a nice way, at the concert. And he asked for my number! How random is that? That sort of thing never happens to me. It turns out to be someone I know casually anyway, but it totally came out of the blue. Cool guys never hit on me in the States. I’m just loving Ireland more and more all the time! :-)

I've Gotta Do This More Often

Last night I went to see the Harlem Gospel Choir on tour in Cork. Maybe not your usual venue for a gospel concert, but these guys are famous and I was really looking forward to getting a little taste of home. OK, so I don’t go to many gospel concerts at home either, but you get the drift, right? I have to say that it was the best thing I could have done for myself. On the bus trip into town, I pulled up my favorite track on my iPod, U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For from Rattle and Hum. It’s my favorite U2 song anyway, but this is my favorite rendition of it, in large part because of the backing gospel vocals (by The New Voices of Freedom, a separate group) which just makes you want to rock! So, there I was, dressed in my brown leather Italian boots (my new favorite) and feeling fine, bopping along to the music piping into my head, and feeling more like myself than I have in a long time.

I didn’t realize just how constrained and small I’ve been feeling lately. It’s only partly being what feels like the only non-African black person in Cork. I’m used to being the odd one out; it’s more general than that. I think being the new person, the foreigner, always feeling a little off balance and on the back foot, and always just a little aware of being in the spotlight (at least it feels that way sometimes), has caused me to become just a little emotionally hunched in all the time. But, listening to that song on my way in made me feel like I was standing tall again, like I was doing something I love and that felt so familiar. For so many reasons. One, I hear so little about U2 here in Ireland, it’s amazing. In the States, it felt like I ran across references to them all the time. Plus, I have to admit that I kept up with the fan sites much more regularly. I had a lot of time at work where I was just so bored, I had to do something else! Two, Ireland is a very white country. No shock there, I know. But, it’s more than the overall paleness of the inhabitants. Again, I’m used to being one of the few non-pale ones in my circle :-) Nobody bops around here, body language is so restrained. At church, we can be singing these great worship songs, but nobody moves! For a people who love music and dance so much, they’re remarkably still. Maybe I’m just used to the way Black-American culture has infused the larger society. But, even in my majority white-American church back home (admittedly getting more and more international all the time), people would be moving to the music.

I’m feeling more and more of the differences, the longer I’m here, and as I get closer to going home for the holidays. They are just differences, there’s no right or wrong, better or worse, I’m just really craving the familiar right now.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

All I want for Christmas is . . . . .

Folks, it's begun. Now that I've booked my flights for my first trip home, I'm already making lists, my favorite way to manage both anxiety and anticipation. I think there's a little bit of both going on here.

Lists of friends I need to see: you know who you are!

Lists of shows I need to catch up on since iTunes, who I otherwise love, won't let me download the episodes (because my computer is now registered in Ireland. Damn you iTunes!): Battlestar Galactica, Gray's Anatomy, Blood Ties.

Lists of foods I need to bring back with me: peanut butter, mac and cheese, jalepeno red pepper jelly (is that only a southern thing?), Maker's Mark.

Lists of restaurants to visit and foods I need to eat: Fandango Salad and Frontega Chicken Sandwich at Panera Bread; Cabo Chicken Sandwich at Quizno's Subs; good salads anywhere (Ireland is direly in need of good fast food outlets).

Lists of stores I really really REALLY need to visit, even if just to stand and stare in awe at the neverending aisles and overstocked shelves: Bed Bath & Beyond - inexpensive bedding and towels in a plethora of colors and styles, hangars!; Rack Room Shoes - nice selection of reasonably priced (compared to Ireland) shoes; SRI Warehouse - aisles of discounted fashion footwear as far as the eye can see (believe me, the picture is wildly inadequate to demonstrate the beauty that is SRI)

Barnes. And. Noble! B&N itself is going to take me a couple of days.

That all's a lot for just 2 weeks, I know. And I still have more than 6 weeks to go in which to add to the list! Thank goodness the euro is doing so well against the dollar, I'm going to need every bit of help I can get.