Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Jouvert (that's JOO-vay) the Great

Your Average American Negro enjoys holidays like anyone else. On Thanksgiving he eats turkey and falls asleep. At the stroke of midnight each New Year, he shoots a pistol into the sky. On Labor Day he stops wearing white. And on the Fourth of July, just last Monday, he barbecued lots and lots (and lots) of chicken.

Despite it all, he lacks a special occassion on which to revel in his American Negritude. Martin Luther King Day is a celebration of history, which is important, but different. And Kwanzaa, an American Negro's only cultural celebration, is a joke. Have you ever met a Negro that celebrates Kwanzaa? I know some white folks that celebrate Kwanzaa, but nary a Negro.

Maybe you can understand why I sometimes envy those Caribbean Negroes with all their parades and multicolored costumes and carnivals and dances. Like them, sometimes a Regular Old American Negro wants to offically celebrate his Negritude with a bunch of other Regular Old American Negroes, all in full costume. I guess that's too much to ask.

Last weekend in Houston, Caribbeans celebrated Jouvert, a late night bash which precedes Carnival. The party was at a large parking lot on the Southwest edge of the city. On one side of the lot was a little Caribbean night club, where, some Negroes say, a man was shot and killed at last year's celebration. On the other side of the lot was the Blue Flame, a nice little Negro strip club where, I'm guessing, the strippers are either really, really skinny or really, really fat and have keloidal bullet and/or stabs wounds in their midsections. (A celebration is nothing without ambience.) The parking lot was fenced off and had a police patrol. The celebration started at midnight.

There's a reason that Jouvert is held outside. The defining characterstic of the celebration is that at some point in the night, people start to sling mud, paint and powder at each other, almost like a giant food fight, only with more dancing and singing and less mashed potatoes, Jell-O and glazed ham. It is quite the primal pleasure.

This Jouvert started off slowly. There were several large box speakers stacked one on top of the other that blasted soca music across the parking lot and out to the adjacent highway junction, but no one danced. The big space in the middle of the parking lot reminded Your Average Negro of his first middle school social. But as the night wore on, excitement and anticipation grew.

If A Regular Old American Negro knew more about soca music, he would tell you the exact song at which the crowd went bananas. From his uninformed persective, it appeared as if the DJ flicked a switch. First it was Off: Caribbean Negroes sauntering about in the nighttime heat. Then it was On: Every Caribbean elatedly jumping up and down and frantically waving his or her country's flag. Drummers and flame throwers came out of nowhere.

The Trini, Jamaican, Guyanese, Bajan, St. Lucian, Granadan and Bahamian flags blended into a flurry of colors. A Regular Old American Negro could have waved the Red, White and Blue, but that would have been somehow out of place. I opted instead to take my shirt off and wave it around my head just like a helicopter. I happened to be wearing my black American Apparel T-shirt, which, in the end, represented Regular Old American Negroes just fine.

The jubilation climaxed when two half-naked men worked their way to the middle of the crowd carrying a porcelain bathtub full of mud. Before long there was mud all over A Regular Old American Negro -- in his mouth, his ears, his pants, all over his clothes. It was enough for A Regular Old American Negro to yearn for his own day to wallow in the mud. Your Average American Negro deserves as much.


Anonymous Soca Scholar said...

Whatever the name of that song was, I guarantee it was about either jumping, winding, or waving. Most likely it was about all 3. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but from my limited understanding of soca lyrics, every song is a how-to set of instructions for dancing to it. Very helpful for the non-Caribbean.

So that you're prepared for next year, what do you propose for the official American Negro Flag?

8:20 PM  
Blogger sJea said...'s a nut...but i do agree...we should have a negro holiday...just to celebrate negritude...

and houston has a blue flame?...who knew? are they a franchise of the one in atlanta? oh the one in atlanta still open?

9:58 AM  
Anonymous The Nigga Negro said...

Peace to all the Gods and Earths.

This is Nigga Negro and I need to set some shit strait. First off, cracker-ass-crackers can't celebrate no damn Kwanzaa. If they try, they are just perpetratin' and makin' fools of themselves. It's like those crakcer-ass-crackers who think they can be Rastafarians...what?? Have any of them read a damn thing about that religion? Rastas are all about Black Negritude. crackers got to be the dumbest thing on the planet.

As for Nigga folk celebratin' Kwanzaa...I know some. You Quint, Niggaz got to do what we can! Don't hate a Nigga 'cause Kwanzaa is wack--it's better than nothing.

Another fact for your virgin p*ssy ass ears, did you know that deep in the Andes, the native people have a dance that they do to honor of the Nigga slaves that the cracker-ass-crackers brought to work on the railroads? These so-called Indians put on elaborate costumes to emulate the heavy chains that my Nigga forefathers wore. When I heard that sh*t, I almost cried. That is f*ckin' beautiful. Us Niggaz in the US can't even celebrate our own damn selves.

As for the Jouvert...fuck a Bahamian. Damn stuck up, wannabe cracker-ass-Niggaz. When they ready to give my ass a ride in their cab, then I'll go to their damn dirt party.

Peace Out, Quint. And STAY BLACK!!

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Camille said...

LMAO @ 'the nigga negro's' post.
You sound like an old ass blackman. LOL

I know some black Rastas who know nothing about those beliefs either. They simply feel it excuses them smoking reefer.

It will be a beautiful day when Black folks can accept that slavery happened - thus allowing them to truly be free.

Then, it'll be a celebration. Bitches.

I mean, we celebrate when word reached us that we were no longer slaves -- but are still bitter about BEING slaves?


Thats some good info about the native people in the Andes!! Thanks.

Peace and Light

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Quint,

You are so funny! I totally enjoyed reading your blog. I adore Paul Mooney, also. I got a chance to check him out when he performed at a fundraiser at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture.

By the way, I live in NYC and every Labor Day, we have the West Indian American Day Parade. While it is fabulous for instilling unity among the Caribbean descended peoples of NY, I often wonder at the cost of the parade. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on costumes, food, drinks, partying, etc., but at the end of the day, the parade is over and the Black community is none the better for this show.

Also, what is so positive about hundreds of half naked women winding their waists and behinds up and down the street while in various stages of inebriation? Where is the pride in that? It is a fun parade. But I don't go every year. I think the joke is on us because white folks believe (thanks to the media) we are a sensual people (as opposed to logical and reasoning) and all we care about is eating, drinking, dancing and screwing, and that this parade celebrates all black folks are.

My parents are native black (South Carolina and Virginia), but I am an honorary Jamaican (5 x there - it is soo beautiful), love Barbados (2 x), and have love for my brothers and sisters from many islands, who I number among my friends. I also make a mean jerk chicken. I think that relying on the parade to introduce and celebrate the culture of the West Indies is a disservice. They are brilliant, talented and hardworking people with hundreds of years of history. Winding, jumping and waving are just a few of their skills.

I fly the American Flag always and I celebrate the 4th of July and Memorial Day because my family members fought in the Civil War, World War II, the Vietnam War and Iraq. What also makes me proud about being a African American is the fact that our ancestors fought so hard (along with concerned white folks and others) for the dignity of people of color, for poor people, for oppressed people, because many of us were/are all those things. Our struggle in this land is why so many people come here from countries all over the world and ironically, dance in the streets, celebrating their homeland, and shared ancestry. I love My Country Tis of Thee (my favorite...The Star Spangeled Banner is a war song and I sing it with pride when and where appropriate) I change pilgrim's pride to native's pride. Kwaanza is a ritual that has become part of many African Americans' holiday season experience, what really needs to take hold is the principles of Kwaanza in our daily lives.

Peace and Love and Prosperity,


11:54 AM  
Blogger The Quintessential Negro said...

Whassup Dezi,
I know a little something about the West Indian Day parade in NYC. I lived in Brooklyn for a couple years. For one of those years I lived at Eastern Parkway and Franklin. The parade was literally outside my front door. Bananas.

3:34 PM  
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3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jumpin wavin' grindin' is a release. i go to antigua 5 yearly. not just for carnival...last year i went five times...and im heading out on wednesday to go back, jamaica in the spring and you best believe i will be partying with my bajan fam for koomadent this year then heading to antigua for jouvert. yes i am born american but africa is in my bloodline, soca, reggae, calypso beats thru my veins like an african drum and i cant wait to get "home" every year. "Home" is any caricom nation, virgin island, african nation or any other west indian/caribbean nation that recognizes i am family. truly we are. Negros in america just got off the boat a little later than other blacks in the island. We still family though.

3:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I hate to admit soco has no depth to it at all. None, 0

7:50 PM  

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