by Brent Wintringham

   Kicking back, listening to a CD called the "Heart Of Soul" right now. Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes. The Three Degrees. Ahhh. And Billy Paul singing Me and Mrs. Jones. Live. Cranked up loud, disturbing my country-song loving yokel neighbors.

   There is a visceral integrity in the artistic expression of the black culture. There is a visible and real strength, and a pride of accomplishment. No wonder we steal all their ideas.

   Duke Ellington, George Washington Carver, Booker T Washington,  Paul Robeson, Louis Armstrong, Josh Gibson (give me a break, I'm a baseball fan. You don't want me to get started on the injustice of the greatest player of his time denied the right to ply his trade in the Major Leagues. Don't prod me).

   I suppose that hundreds of years of  oppression, degradation and exploitation would make a people resilient.
The obviously Afro-American influence in the cultural landscape of the entire world is astounding. Go to Europe.
They accepted Josephine Baker and Charlie Parker after they fled their own country because of persecution.
Jack Johnson, the heavyweight Champion of the world was indicted for daring to sleep with a white woman.
He defended his title abroad, celebrated and accepted, unable to go home for fear of incarceration in the
Notorious prison system of the time. (Some say it broke his heart. Others say his wallett.
Which is why he supposedly threw that fight to Jess Willard in Cuba. I don't buy it.

He didn't go down 'till the 25th round or some god-awful thing like that. THOSE guys were fighters. Beau Jack, Kid McCoy, Battleship Lewinsky, Sam Langford.- Little Mikey Tyson would run crying for his mullah if faced with the Devastation that Was Novia Scotia's Sam Langford. Jack Dempsey declined any offers to trade shots with Sam. Official racism bailed Dempsey's ass out - BIG TIME. - They all ended up blind, punchdrunk and semi-comatose in a final sublime and pitiful glory to the free Market Gambling Culture that sucked the life's blood from their competitive efforts.)
   A little story. Back in '83, during a Dark time in my life, I hired on as a truck driver with a Custom Harvesting Operation out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My hometown.

   Our destination? Why, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and North Texas. A family-run bizness. pentecostal born agains. It was bizarre, we had to say grace before meals. The old man was old time religion. There was his son and three hired men. All about 20 to 25.

   Trouble? Some. Good times. You bet. I can tell you a FEW stories. There was this girl in Elk City named Cheryl who taught me how to two-step. Kept complimenting me on my "English" accent. She was incredibly gorgeous and full figured in the best sense of the word. Loved that slow Oklahoma drawl. I never thought that my name could sound alluring until she spoke it. She took me to a blues bar, an authentic small, smoky, plaster peeler. It was great. She kept telling some big black guy that it was "O.K." 'cause he's Canadian. "Y'know, where the slaves escaped to."

    I heard the unfortunate word "nigger" many times during my sojourn through MidwestUSA. From white folk and black. And it meant something different every time. People are often trapped in their roles, and play them out unthinkingly. In my experience, people are the same everywhere. All they want is a house to call a home, a fair chance to make a living and a better future for their children.

   I find it incredible that in today's world, with all the races,creeds and colours of the world only a mouse-click away, that we still have such horrible injustice and cruelty pervading the world.

   Keep fighting the good fight, bc. Just finished listening to "Wake Up Everybody" by the Bluenotes. It should be required listening for freepers, of that, I have no doubt.

     RB Ham

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