Friday, October 26, 2007

NYC and Hip Hop Harry

As I exited the Williamsburg Bridge last night I spotted a billboard for Carnival Cruise Lines which read "The Caribbean, NYC's newest borough." I smiled to myself, savoring the irony. A quick trip through any of the boroughs would make it clear that the connection between the Caribbean and NYC is strong and long standing.

When it comes to anything about ethnicity and/or culture I suffer from a kind of hyper-sensitivity which is probably the result of being a graduate of a college steeped in the Socratic method, having Trinidadian and Black American heritage (yes, both part of the African Diaspora but a combination that results in a kind of double, triple, quadruple consciousness...more on that later), and just my nature in general. Drawing connections is just something I do, not to say that all of my connections are accurate, but it's the way I understand the things around me.

It's important to me that when I tell people about my Trinidadian heritage that I stress there's more to the cultures in the Caribbean than good music and a willingness to party. The islands of the Caribbean are home to people of both the African and Asian diaspora. In my mind--and this assumption grows as I learn more--the Caribbean is a lynchpin, connecting the cultures of the various continents that surround it. Look at it this way, on the Monopoly board of dispersed cultures, the Caribbean is often the "GO" when it comes to tracing immigration paths, and in NYC Caribbean cultures have contributed more than a fair share of what defines the city. I mean, let's be real, we all know hip hop's roots are firmly planted in Jamaican soil.

So, I'd like to take this time to thank Carnival for their subtle, though maybe unintentional, reminder of the connection between Caribbean culture and NYC.

And speaking of hip hop, two nights ago after falling asleep to a TLC documentary on obesity (which is a growing concern of time as I continue to work with children and constantly fret over their mass consumption of things like Tropical Fantasy soda) I was awoken by this mess.

Just thought I'd share. My friend says he'd like to meet the group of soccer moms who put that together. It's like programming for the "urban" ADD community. Blech.

This, on the other hand, made me giggle out loud.

-Ashleigh Rae

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