If you think history is going to be made on a certain Tuesday in November, and you are a West Indian through and through, there is only one proper course of action. You have to plan a lime. And we Trinis take organization of an historic event lime very, very seriously. Cooking must start at least 24 hours in advance. You must have one fridge cleared of normal domestic requirements like cheese and tomatoes and lined with liquid refreshments. I favour an alphabetical arrangement:
Shelf No. 1 – Banks (what passes for beer on this rock);
Shelf No. 2 – Carib (what Trini people assert is the beer);
Shelf No. 3 – Coconut Water (to give that something extra to the Extra Old);
Shelf No. 4 – Wine (for the health conscious to get their vitamin C allowance).
Finally you must be careful to invite only those whose politics you are sure of and share. Those beer bottles have to be returned intact.
But even the distraction of having a few friends over on the election night of a lifetime could not stop the sweating, hand wringing and nail biting that preceded the hours before That One was declared The One Elect. Friends from all over the world were emailing their coping strategies or sometimes just emailing as a coping strategy. C. in Cairo drank a full case of Coke Zeros and hurt his thumb texting his sister in DC. How many McCain supporters could she spot in the voting queue and how exactly was she going to nuke ‘em? R. in Geneva decided to take a more Zen approach. He trusts that the universe will do the right thing and, if this is not the moment for change, then we must wait as the endless cycle of life reveals itself. When I grow up I want to be like him - just later man. First we have to get Pallin back to Alaska. Who’s been keeping an eye on the Russians while she’s been shopping?
In anticipation of her plane full of children and clothing making that one-way journey back to Anchorage, the assembled mob in my yard made a couple banners expressing common dreams and hopes. There was only one small problem. Have you ever tried making banner slogans, by committee, at a gathering where alcohol is flowing? Not easy. But in the spirit of the night we came together and said Yes We Can. I still have a banner left hanging between two trees that says “Bajans for Obama” – ironically composed by a majority of non-nationals. And as the results became clear, we on this small rock joined in the collective happiness that crashed through the world, shouting, crying and hugging each other – a combination of relief and hope surging through our veins.
But when Second Born woke the next day he was not pleased. The Law is The Law and he takes a dim view of those who transgress – Obama euphoria notwithstanding. He and I have spent time together on YouTube listening to the preacher’s dream and he knows about Rosa, so I thought the foundation was laid for him to understand why unknown person or persons might be moved to hang a banner on a public monument of a freed slave, proclaiming 500 years + Obama = Hope while he slept. But he was having none of it and thought that I should take responsibility for undoing this travesty by removing it soonest - before the police arrested anyone.
A day later it was all over the local TV and on the front page of The Nation and the back page of The Advocate - full colour photographs of Bussa with banner. As Second Born read the blurb suggesting that Bussa himself might have approved of the graffiti, he softened. By the time he had spoken to his grandma about the newspaper coverage he was positively beaming.
“How come you like the banner being there now, little one?” I asked.
He grinned cheekily.
“Well, it made people happy so the police won’t mind.”
Maybe his rigidity is softening enough for me to postpone lecturing him on The Impact of Non-Violent Protest On The Legislating of Fundamental Human Rights – From Gandhi to Banksy.
So the world is changing and we on this small rock have joined in the collective happiness that is rippling through the world - our exuberance in part that when America as a society was asked to live up to the ideal of non-discrimination she came through. Actually it would be more accurate to say there has been a resounding victory for most notions of equality. In Obama is symbolized a triumph over discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, social origin, association with a national minority, property and birth. So it is even more crushing that on that same day in California a majority said no we cannot overcome discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Let’s make a promise that we can.