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Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Can You Help Me, Please?

It's testimony to where the USA has reached that a black man standing in a yellow T-shirt can be regarded by a mass of white people as a fount of wisdom. How so? I stood behind a sign board near an exit at the US Open tennis this evening and almost everyone who needed information came to ask me. I think they did not notice that the sign read 'Exit' and just assumed it was a kiosk front. My yellow shirt was similar to that of some attendants. But I was carrying a purple New York University bag, and I was slouched over the sign, with fatigue.

One can never get into the mind of another person. I was stunned when a lady from the ATP World Tour came and asked me where she could leave tickets to be collected. I was tempted to say "Right here, miss," because I had no ticket for the evening session, and though I was wasted, I could have taken in Sharapova and Roddick into the night.

I should have remembered the court side attendant for the match featuring the Williams sisters this afternoon. There was a burly black man, with some features that were a bit on the thick side, and I can just about see the possible confusion.

But, is it good that in America a black man can be seen as a regular service worker? Moments before, I had a Latino cleaner come to talk to me about how he had to take on night cleaning work at the stadium, after being put on short time at his regular job. I asked him if his colleagues were mainly Latinos and Latinas. He said they were. People like me could go to watch the tennis. In his eyes, the black man, decently dressed was able to spend time lolling around at tennis tournaments while he had to work from 7am till 10pm to make ends meet. Maybe, the impression is that the American black man has moved on a good way. Interesting.

3 comments:

Dia&Kofi said...

Yellow makes you fair game. Obviously you were malingering, and the public spirited public had to put you to work.

The Latino man had something to say and no one to say it to but the only one who clearly has Barack's number.

Love the post, wondering whether I can link it to my page.

tdha said...

the shirt did look a bit...industrial. most people are only looking for symbols when they have to navigate a public space.

nice post!

Bajan Lily said...

It was the shirt AND it was the air of authority with which you stood at 'your post' lol.
Great post really... the other aspects you touched on, re: the progress of the American Black man (vs the latino cleaner), well that bit was a bit deep. Gotta chew on that a bit more before commenting I think.