How to Pass your Own Exam

With the end of February fast approaching (so quickly approaching that it’s here now!) this also marks the end of something much less obvious: Black History Month.

This also means it’s time to sharpen my pencil for the ol’ Nelleytimes Black History Month Exam.

What did I accomplish this month? Did I do enough? And more importantly, could I have done more?

Let’s take the ol’ test and find out.

Will I pass? Will I fail? As with any exam, it all depends on how much you studied, how prepared you are for it and of course – who writes and grades the exam. 😉

The ol’ Nelleytimes Black History Month Exam*

*written and graded by Nelley

Question 1: Did you learn about a famous Black Canadian you thought you already knew?

Why yes I did. The late Harry Jerome in fact. I applied for a scholarship in his name when I was in high school (didn’t get it-boo!) and knew that he was an athlete but didn’t know any other details of his life.

Question 2: Did you share that knowledge with others?

Oh ya, sure thing! Harry Jerome was an outstanding Canadian athlete with an astonishing athletic career:

  • Jerome set a total of seven world records, including tying the 100 metres in 10.0 seconds in 1960
  • He set the world record for the 100 yard dash at 9.2 seconds (darn Americans and there non metric system!) , making Jerome the only athlete to own both the 100 yard and 100 meter world record simultaneously
  • He competed successfully in 3 Summer Olympics (1960 in Rome, 1964 in Tokyo and 1968 in Mexico) an unheard of accomplishment in his day.

He unfortunately died relatively young (aged 40) of a surprise brain aneurysm in 1982. his life story is well documented in the 2010 film documentary ‘Mighty Jerome’.

Craziest fact:

He suffered a leg injury so severe in 1962 (his quadriceps fully separated from his knee ligaments – gross!) and his doctors initially believed he would never be able to walk again. Despite this dire prediction, he had the reattachment surgery (yikes!) then worked with coaches and trainers in an effort to get back on the track. He went on to qualify and compete in 2 more Summer Olympics, coming in 3rd in the 100m sprint and 4th in the 200m sprint!

Damn that’s inspiring!

Question 3: Did you learn about a significant Black Canadian you never knew before, who carved a path for others?

Why yes I did that too. This exam is great! The BC chapter of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers held a mini film festival, showcasing the documentary film:  ‘The making of a judge’ about the life of the Honourable Judge George E. Carter. Judge Carter owns the distinction of being the first Canadian-born Black judge in Canada.

Question 4. Did you share this knowledge with others?

Oops. I always forget that part.

A brilliant man, Judge Carter was born way back in 1921 and is still, happily, alive today. In the film they describe the time he lived in being a time of exclusion, with a silent racism that permeated all aspects of his life as he tried to prevail based on his exceptional skill and ability in a legal society that was holding him back based solely on the colour of his skin. He was finally called to the bench in 1976 and his stellar service record and fair and balanced legal style is still a shining example to all lawyers to today.

The inspiring message I took from his life story is that you must always live up to your expectations of yourself and never live down to what others expect of you. And of course to always expect great things from yourself.

Surprising fact: Now into his 90’s, he’s still practising law. Not only that but his sharp mind is still intact and he’s as witty as ever.

Question 5. Did you showcase and support young and talented Canadians?

Sure did! I volunteered for an event called ‘When the Spirit Moves’, a musical showcase that introduced attendees to an adorable 11-year-old pianist named Jo-Raul Farley, and Shanise Brown, a talented young 16-year-old singer.
Go me!

Question 6. Are there any events you said ‘Yes’ to but didn’t actually attend?

What?! Who wrote this thing anyway?! Fine. Yes, unfortunately there were a few. As I say yes to everything (well I meant to go….) sometimes events overlapped and I had to pick just one….And sometimes I’m just plain lazy and prefer to stay put then to venture out in the snow. Plus, there are only so many Friday/Saturday and Sundays in a month. C’mon people, give me a break already!

And finally,

Question 7. So what about parties? Reggae jams, soca fetes, bassment parties, etc? Did you plan, organize, attend or volunteer at any of those this month?

….Wow. I completely forgot about the party side of life. I didn’t get a chance to attend one Black History month related party, soca fete, reggae jam or even a spontaneous street party.

Oops.

Final Grade

 

Learning is great. Educating others is wonderful and you definitely get extra points for sharing knowledge. Showcasing and/or supporting young talent is priceless and volunteering your time is highly commendable. However, you will have to be docked points for failing to show up for an RSVP’d event and most importantly for forgetting to actually celebrate the month. Parties are all about bringing people together in a relaxed environment and encouraging everyone to have a good time. It could have bridged culture gaps,  closed the racial divide and essentially brought about world peace. Yes, parties are THAT powerful and THAT important. tsk. tsk. tsk.

 

Final Grade: B+

 

BUT! If you attend as many parties, reggae jams and soca fetes as you can in March and begin to spread the seeds for Black History Month 2012, your grade can be bumped up to a much deserved A.

Really?? Deal!

See! It pays to write the exam. 😉

A history of Black

It’s Black History Month! (or just ‘February’, for all you racists, lol!). The month that all us black folks wait around all year for. A time to celebrate the most naturally and wholly pigmented of Earth’s people.

Out of curiosity and based on that tired ol’ joke ‘ Hallmark makes a card for everything’,  I wanted to see if that was indeed true.  While I found lame lame-ass ‘inspirational’  cards here (check it out if you like lame), I couldn’t find any humourous ones. Sure black history is nothing to laugh at (unless it’s a black history comedy showcase), but neither are birthdays, births, mothers’/fathers’ day, weddings, Bat and Bar Mitzvahs and Valentine’s Day but they certainly make a bunch of funny cards for those occasions. Call me old fashioned, but I like to remind my closest friends about how old they’re getting; my dad how crotchety he can be; and sending my mom inappropriately dressed Chippendale dancers to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day (sometimes in a greeting card too!).

Maybe it’s the whole ‘month’ thing that has the card industry turned off. After all, there are so many questions to consider when introducing a new series:

  • When is the right time of the month to acknowledge black history month?
  • Should one give a card at the beginning, middle or end of the month?
  • If the card arrives late, is it belated or is it more appropriate that way?
  • Do I have to give a card to every black person I know?
  • What about that obnoxious black guy at work? Do I have to give one to him too??
  • If I don’t give him a card, does that make me a racist?

Then there’s the event related questions:

  • Should there be some sort of party to commemorate the occasion?
  • If there is a party, do you serve cake?
  • If the cake is white in colour (vanilla butter cream frosting), is that racist?
  • What if you serve chocolate cake, is THAT racist??

What’s that saying?

You should never discuss sex, politics or religion in polite company…

Add black history to that list too. When’s the last time you discussed ol’ blacky (short for Black History of course) in polite company? Even in impolite company.

Don’t feel bad though. Until recently, I hadn’t really thought of ol’ blacky myself until mid January when someone reminded me it was coming up (oh yea! It’s in March, right?? No? February this year again??)

Normally overshadowed by Valentine’s Day, and here in Vancouver, completely eclipsed by way of the 2 week February celebration for Chinese New Year (I’m still confused as to why this one day event gets celebrated over a 2 week period but I’ll google that later) Black History month comes and goes with little fanfare and barely any hoopla. I did most of my black history learning in grade school and then once I was out, I didn’t think about it much more after that (Nor any history that’s not covered in Jeopardy. Or geometry for that matter.).

So where was I? Oh yes. Another reason could be the whole ‘history’ part too. All the ‘history’ behind Black History Month are the same reasons people don’t want to talk about it. Who wants to think back to a time of extreme negativity? What could a greeting card even say when it would not be saying so much? (Happy February! cuz….well…you know…). People don’t go on about other negative events either (think – the holocaust).  Why? Same reasons. A true, but very embarrassing time in our history. It happened, we all acknowledge that it did but who wants to lament on it?  You’ll notice too that documentaries and Hollywood movies about slavery or the holocaust are never romantic comedies or have happy, storybook endings (ever seen Alex Haley’s book turned TV movie Roots?? Kunta!!!).

But I want a storybook ending!

Fine. Agreed. And me too. I’m not a freethinking optimist for nothing you know. So here’s our positive spin: Black History Month is definitely a joyous occasion to be celebrated by everyone. It puts the spotlight on great leaders of the past (Martin Luther King Jr. ), great present leaders that all youth (regardless of race/gender) can idolize and aspire to be (recent Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean, President Barack Obama) and future leaders of tomorrow (look around you, you might currently be friends with greatness!).

So to keep the happy momentum going, I did end up finding some humourous (and inappropriate) Black History Month ecards, from SomeEcards.com wheee!:

Happy ‘February!’

Thanks for the Giving

Thank you for coming!

Thank you for staying!

Thank you for leaving!

 

Just like momma used to make

Thanksgiving Dinner has traditionally been consumed any day on the 3 day holiday weekend. Although I typically have several dinner invites to wade through over the Thanksgiving weekend, this holiday season I was remiss and only managed to eke out one solitary invite. This lack of a social dinner life gives me a lot more free time for the holiday. Every year I look forward to sliced turkey, fresh cranberry sauce (from the can), buttery mashed potatoes, roasted fall vegetables all covered in thick, delicious gravy (on everything. Pie too). This immense meal will be followed by the biggest slice of pumpkin pie covered in the largest ‘dollop’ of whipped cream (the serving is done when the can is empty).  While I’d normally spend countless hours digesting the first through third turkey dinner, I now have the unfortunate luxury of time to think, and more specifically, think about Thanksgiving in Canada and why the heck we celebrate it anyway.

We’ve been inundated with US culture for so long that I’ve forgotten what Canadian thanksgiving even means. I’m definitely happy for the day off, of course, but WHY do we get that day off and more importantly, how can we slip in a few more?

I don’t want to blame my high school history teachers for this but I’d like to think and definitely imply that they’re at fault. Surely they could have made Canadian history more interesting and memorable. Besides Jacques Cousteau discovering poutine in Quebec and the Metis taking over middle earth, I have little recollection about the rest of Canadian history.

A proud Canadian late-night, after-the-bar tradition

I think I know that US Thanksgiving has to do with pilgrims and native American Indians and discovering maize and the subsequent American proffered gifts of tainted blankets (tainted with little dipper pox, jungle fever, a case of the mondays?) and then subsequently taking over the nation. What a proud heritage they have down there but before I shoot off my sanctimonious Canadian mouth, perhaps I should first review our own potentially salmonella covered Thanksgiving history.

Checking in with my good friend the Internet, it looks as though our reason for the Thanksgiving celebration is similar to our peeps to the south:

Some explorer dude- Martin Frobisher, held a formal ‘thanks for the grub’ dinner after surviving a long journey. That meal is now considered the first Thanksgiving celebration by landed immigrants (aka the Europeans) in Canada.

Other Thanksgiving origins include being thankful for a bounty of fruits and vegetables from the preceding year. Also, something about native Canadian Indians and farmers harvesting or what have you but luckily, it didn’t mention anything about us poisoning the locals, woo (or maybe it just wasn’t listed, but I’ll leave that up to history teachers to continue to cover up).
Then I got bored of wikipedia and various other Canadian thanksgiving websites and found these cool facts instead:

From the Guinness Book of world records

  • Heaviest turkey 86 lbs (39kg)
  • Largest pumpkin pie? 2,020lbs (916kg), 3.7m long
  • Heaviest sweet potato? 82bs (37kg)
  • Largest pumpkin? 1,469lbs (666 kg)
  • Fullest belly? Mine, after thanksgiving dinner. Mmmmmm 😉

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Poutine image

Pumpkin image