Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories is now available @
Drop by a see us, nuh?
Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories is now available @
Drop by a see us, nuh?
Personal space differs from person to person and from culture to culture. Yet one thing is clear--we all have a right to claim that space and the right to that space is inviolable. However, from the time of the Middle Passage, the intrusion into the personal space and the treatment of "holy space," an area designated for the performance or observation of rituals or ceremonies, within the Black community has been decimated.
The dramatic incident that brought all this together in my mind happened during what I'd like to call "Witness Time" at the Remembrance ceremony. Each person in the circle had been asked by one of the organizers, Gene Tinnie, to repeat the names of beloved ancestors and to say a few words about the ceremony. There were many heartfelt declarations, but the most poignant was that of an elderly queen who was moved to speak during the ceremony.
Apparently while the ceremony was going on, one of the drummers, a young man, spat on the ground where the participants were stepping forward to give a witness. So during what was overall a soul-filling ceremony, the elderly queen stepped forward and rebuked the young man.
It was one of those uncomfortable moments when something was happening, yet you don't know what to do. On a hygienic level, the young man should have known better. But I had to ask myself, did the young man consider the circle as a "holy space" that had been blessed by a Native American priestess who had ritually cleansed all of the participants who had come to honor the memory of those Africans who had been thrown overboard at Virginia Key Beach?
I couldn't help thinking that the young man didn't know any better. Maybe it was like the incident with my son and the paint--if we don't teach our young men, how will they know? We can't expect the culture to teach them. Miami has a reputation for rudeness and spitting, so we shouldn't expect the young man to know automatically. And yet I would also have to ask, would he have spit in a church--an officially sanctioned "holy space"? Didn't he know that by the joining of hands in a circle around an altar of palm fronds and gifts for the ancestors and that by our presence, we had designated that area of the beach a "holy space?"
I could list many reasons why I think the young man did what he did. The first one being maybe he just wanted to spit. But the main reason I think goes back to the lack of respect that we have for our personal space and our collective space which has been highly contested ever since New World Africans crossed the Atlantic in the Middle Passage. From the beginning of slavery, there has been a war fought over black bodies and black space and because we have been victims in the past, we have conceded our space and our right to that space and it has had a debilitating effect on our self-esteem.
The violation/insult to personal and collective space was decimated during the Middle Passage and afterwards during the many years of institutional and legal racism. The redemption of this space has been one of the legacies of leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. with the Civil Rights Movement's chant, "I am Somebody." Curiously, the chant was whispered during the ceremony by one of the older brothers, a survivor from the sixties, who only muttered the chant that was heard by a few of us and some hermit crabs lumbering over the sand. A variation of this chant was offered by a dreadlocked brother standing with his queen near the water when he said, "Big up yourself!"
Certainly we need to "big up" ourselves, but after so many years of having our personal and collective spaces violated, and with one third of the adult males in Florida involved in one way or another with the legal and prison systems--hardly a place for the redemption of personal space--I fear that the young man simply didn't know any better. I also fear that he may not be learning how to negotiate personal space without getting into trouble because he doesn't know the difference between assertion and aggression, and the cycle will continue.
And what about the collective spaces that we occupy? Do we think that our very presence should make that space worthy of honor and respect? In other words, now that we are free, who owns our bodies and our personal space? Do we?
Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories is now available @ Amazon.com
For now, check out the post over at Global Voices: If Bloggers Attended the Conference on the Caribbean.
It is my mission to bring Old Barbados back to the forefront via photography. Whether it be some old chattel house, an old soft stone house, or some other dilapidated dwelling, you can still find some subtle beauty in them.
These stirring images came about as I escaped in to my past. Traversing the island of Barbados, I was looking for all that was old and beautiful. It led me to childhood places and what came out was a photojournalistic body of work.
Geoffrey Philp, A.B. '83, M.A. '86, will be launching his recently published children's book, Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories, at the end of June. Set in the multicultural environment of South Florida, Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories is about a young Jamaican-American boy, Jimmy Harrison, who loves school and his favorite subject is snack time! But when a new boy, Kevin, joins his class, he begins to bully Jimmy and the rest of the children. Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories draws on the rich oral tradition of Anancy stories that are told and re-told in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean. These Anancy stories, which originated in West Africa, are rich sources of wisdom that have been passed down from generation to generation. Philp has authored numerous books and poetry collections, and is currently the chairperson of the College Prep department at the Miami-Dade College North Campus.
Next week I'll be featuring "Five Questions with Trevor "Boots" Harris," a music journalist who has worked for the past forty years with all the major print media houses in Jamaica, including the Gleaner and Star. T. "Boots" will be discussing dancehall.
Have a great weekend!
And in my pastor's world, I had probably committed several mortal sins. In his binary universe of sin and redemption, purity and uncleanness, the Devil was always on the prowl and contended with God for the souls of sinners like me so that he could thwart the divine order. Moral purity, which was supposed to encompass my entire life, was linked specifically to hair, dress, and speech. Any deviation or lack in any of these areas was tantamount to a declaration that you were encamped with the Devil's faction. So as I grew older, I kept my face clean, went to the barber regularly (or my father made sure), and spoke, wrote, and spelled the Queen's English correctly. It was God's will.
Then, the Jamaican revolution during the seventies with Bob Marley, Rastafari, and Michael Manley changed all of that for me. I realized that by that if I followed my pastor's logic, the Caribbean was a zone of sin because of linguistic and racial miscegenation. Still, as I made my way through Jamaica College listening to reggae, devouring the books in the library, playing football, and wondering if I'd ever write good fiction, my pastor’s voice remained in my head. And even as I read more and more books by Caribbean writers and got rid of the ideas that Africa represented "impurity and immorality" and Europe represented "purity and morality," I fretted over my immortal soul. This is not to say that some of the binary oppositions did not materialize in my readings. I suspect now that the placement of Walcott and Brathwaite in opposite camps may have to do with this tendency. Read Walcott and go to heaven; read Brathwaite and go to hell.
Imagine, then, my surprise a few years ago as I was reading Omeros in which Walcott meditates on the themes of character, observation, and language, and I came upon this passage:
Then everything fit. The pirogues crouched on the sand
Like hounds with sprigs in their teeth. The priest
sprinkled them with a bell, then he made the swift's sign.
When he smiled at Achille's canoe, In God We Troust,
Achille said: "Leave it! Is God' spelling and mine."
In this very telling scene, the position of the priest as a representative of the patrician order and European tradition, and Achille as the natural Caribbean man who inhabits a universe where "Ogun can fire one with his partner Zeus" intrigued me. The priest's bemusement with Achille’s character is reflected in his condescending smile. Achille responds to this seeming moral indictment because he cannot spell the word, "trust” with the retort, "Leave it! Is God' spelling and mine." A battle over individuality, morality, divinity, and spelling was being fought on a Caribbean beach. I loved it.
That passage was also a point of confluence for me. For despite what some of their followers claim, Brathwaite and Walcott have many traits in common. For example, both Walcott and Brathwaite are fascinated with the slippages and neologisms that have become part of the Caribbean vocabulary and how they convey identity. In this way, Walcott and Brathwaite distinguish themselves from many of their contemporaries such as VS Naipaul. In the world of Brathwaite and Walcott, speech is tied to individuality and naming is a divine function because it creates an order that is tied to the landscape and people. Defects occur when the speakers take on lifestyles that are not true to their character or when they inflict cruelty on others through greed. However, in the moral universe of Naipaul's comedies of manners, characters who are grammatically challenged howl in "broken" English from the depths of the ninth circle.
However, in Omeros, Achille’s speech demonstrates his supreme trust in the natural world of action and consequences and the lessons gleaned through observation. As the speaker in Chapter XV states, "Observation is character"(85). As I read and re-read the scene, I became immersed in Achille's seamless universe--so seamless, in fact, that he traverses time and space to encounter his ancestor, Afolabe, who was renamed "Achilles" by a "small admiral with a cloud/ on his head" (83). With Achille's simple assertion, he affirms his identity and whatever the priest assumed was irrelevant because Achille's spelling bore the mark of his personality--his individuality. Achille's individuality which was manifested in his work was linked to divinity: "Is God' spelling and mine." In other words, even in the seeming disorder of the misspelling, action, and consequences (con: with; sequence: order) a visible object was created and made Achille one with his work. Creation is an aspect of divinity. If Achille and is work are one, then there can be no error, mistakes, or sin--no matter what the priest or the tradition thought. Also, despite the misspellings that occurred in Achille's life and that of his ancestor, Afolabe, the divine order could not be upset. With any action, consequences follow a pattern, so Achille as an observer of these cycles can make the proclamation, "Leave it," or let it be?
I wish my pastor had read more of Walcott.
"But publishing in the Caribbean is a tricky business. Audiences are broken up by geography, scattered over vast distances. Publishing houses in the region are for the most part under-capitalised, and have to struggle with the absence of an efficient regional distribution network. There are almost no indigenous institutions like arts councils or foundations helping to support writers and publishers. Getting a magazine like the CRB off the ground requires huge quantities of personal energy and enthusiasm, but energy and enthusiasm are never enough. The original Caribbean Review of Books ceased publication after three years simply because it was financially impossible to keep it going."
There is something you can do to help us, dear readers. Subscribe. A year's subscription to the CRB costs US$24.99 in the Caribbean and $29.99 elsewhere, and you can subscribe using your credit card via a secure online transaction.***
One of the best ways to support the arts and artists in the Caribbean is by financial contributions and subscriptions to magazines such as CRB.
My father died in May 2005, after an agonizing battle with lung disease. This is the third Father’s Day that I will spend without him since we started celebrating together in 1981. That was when I moved to the United States from Haiti, after his own migration here had kept us apart for eight long years.
My father’s absence, then and now, makes all the more poignant for me the predicament of the following fathers who also deserve to be remembered today.
For more of Edwidge’s remembrance in the New York Times, please follow this link:
Liberty City, FL 33147
We in Jamaica make it so hard for ourselves. While there is a lot of in your face begging, even from the able bodied, our organizations are so poorly run that they cannot accomplish even the simple task of receiving gifts of time and money.
Jamaican Diaspora Southern United States
Celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage Month
In Celebration of Caribbean-American Heritage Month
& Jamaican Diaspora Day
Jamaican Diaspora Southern United States
Celebrity-Media Mini-Sports & Health Awareness Day
Saturday, June 16, 2007, 2pm – 7pm
African American Research Library
2650 Sistrunk Blvd, Fort Lauderdale
LIVE BROADCAST ON NEWS/TALK 1080 AM
With Eddy Edwards and Marlon Hill
Featuring local celebrities and media competing in
nostalgic sports games like three-legged race, egg & spoon race,
backward sprints, sack race, and much more
Featured Race: Who is the Fastest Consul General in the Southern US?
Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, St. Lucia, Belize, Haiti, Bahamas,
Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago?
Also featuring health awareness information
On prostate cancer, breast cancer, high blood pressure,
and mental health from the North Broward Hospital District
Also Jamaican Storytelling, 10am – 1pm, inside Library
Author Kellie Magnus, reading from her book – “Little Lion At Bat”
Folkloric classics such as Anansi and others will also be presented.
For more information
Call: 786-349-2584 or Email: email@example.com
Sponsors include: News/Talk 1080AM WTPS, Caribbean National Weekly
SouthFloridaCaribbeannews.com, Jamaicans.Com, North Broward Hospital District,
and Broward Library
Connect! Strengthen! Act! and
Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month!
Vier Caribisch Amerikaans Erfgoed Maand!
¡Celebre Mes Americano Caribe de Herencia!
Viens Célébrer le Mois de l'Héritage Antillais-Américain!
Ann fete mwa selebrasyon patrimwàn Karayibeyen Ameriken!
Marlon A. Hill, Esq.
Advisory Board Member
Jamaican Diaspora Southern United States
876-621-0102 (Jamaica) ● Facsimile: 786-551-0785
Andy Adams (TX, NM, AZ) * Janeth Simpson-Brown (TN, OK, AK)
Alan Alberga/Jason Walker (GA) * Wayne Golding (North/Central FL)
Junior Farquharson (Palm Beaches/Treasure Coast, FL)
Dale Holness (Broward County)
Jennifer Hue/Salomie Chung (Miami-Dade County)
CONNECT * STRENGTHEN * ACT * CELEBRATE
Unleashing the Potential
"From the time when my children were toddlers, I've wanted to write a children's book," said Philp. "And later when I worked for the Poet-in-the Schools program with Miami-Dade Public Schools and English teacher at West Miami Middle School, I taught the children how to write stories of their own because many children didn't have any way to connect with their parents.. At least on a story level, I'm hoping that Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories will give the parents a chance to begin talking with their children, and that teachers will have a relevant resource that will connect them to their students."
Set in the multicultural environment of South Florida, Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories is about a young Jamaican-American boy, Jimmy Harrison, who loves school and his favorite subject is snack time! But when a new boy, Kevin, joins his class, he begins to bully Jimmy and the rest of the children. What’s worse, he begins to take away Jimmy’s snacks. Using the wisdom from his Grandpa Sydney’s story about “Anancy, Snake, and Tiger,” Jimmy overcomes the class bully. And for one Sunday, he reunites his family for dinner.
Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories draws on the rich oral tradition of Anancy stories that are told and re-told in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean. These Anancy stories, which originated in West Africa, are rich sources of wisdom that have been passed down from generation to generation.
"The launch will be a real family affair and we'll have goody bags for the children and door prizes for the grown-ups. A little bit of everything for everyone," said Philp. "So if you can create the time, why not drop by and see us. We're going to have some fun."
Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories, the only children's book from the English-speaking Caribbean to address the issues of the Caribbean diaspora and bullying, may be used as a textbook 3rd-4th Grade Level Reading Level) during Caribbean-American Heritage Month or Black History Month.
The study guide at the back of Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories conforms to Bloom's Taxonomy and contains critical thinking activities for parents and teachers.
Press Kits may be downloaded @ Geoffrey Philp's web site: http://geoffreyphilp.com/
About the Author: Geoffrey Philp is the author of Benjamin, My Son, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien, Twelve Poems and A Story for Christmas, and four poetry collections, including Exodus and Other Poems, Florida Bound, hurricane center, and xango music. He maintains a web site (http://www.geoffreyphilp.com/generic4.html) and a blog @ http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/. He teaches English at Miami Dade College and is the chairperson of the College Prep. Department at the North campus.
For an overview of the cultural significance of Anancy in the Caribbean, please follow this link: Anancy
Warner Woman: Version
(For Edward Baugh)
She came, they say, wearing a dress as red
as the dirt of the countryside, and stood
at the crossroads of Matilda’s Corner
shaking her fists at the mansions
on the hills. “The Spirit descended on me
to speak these words to the nation,
for they have wandered in paths
that I have not taught them.
For I have heard the cries of widows
and orphans in the streets, but the wicked
who fear neither flood nor famine,
and have built their fortresses, their walled
communities and garrisons have said,
‘Who is there like us to judge us?’
But thus sayeth the Lord of Hosts,
‘Kingston, O Kingston, how I would have loved
to have gathered you to my bosom
the way the sea caresses the shore.
But you have preferred storm and hurricane.
So I say, woe to you for you have slaughtered
my children, the old, and the crippled.
Woe to you for you have stoned and exiled
my prophets. Woe to you for your have defrauded
the homeless and the poor.” Then she ripped
her dress in two, spat on the asphalt three times,
and then, ran like a horse without its rider,
back up to Long Mountain, up into the darkness
gathering around the tops of the trees
with the smell of rain around their roots.