Thu | Nov 14, 2019

Gordon Robinson | Colour prejudice?

Published:Tuesday | October 22, 2019 | 12:05 AM

Forty plus years ago, on my first day as a legal intern, Gene Autry took me aside.

He assumed the air of a senior solicitor: “Two things I must teach you about the law before you start.”

“OK,” I eagerly replied. “What?”

“First,” said Autry, “I must teach you how to cross the road. Don’t argue. You’ve never been downtown. It’s complicated here.”

I thought he was ragging me, until I first stepped on to a pedestrian crossing and was nearly wiped out by a hustling taxi driver.

He pressed on: “Secondly, watch out for downtown beggars. They’re extremely skilful. Before you know what’s happening, your money will be theirs.”

I laughed uproariously. He was confusing me with a primary-school student! So, shortly after my near-death crossing experience, a well-dressed stranger greeted me on the sidewalk.

“Good God, long time!” he stretched out his hand, which I shook quizzically. “Remember me? Dobbs? From the university. Just been to a seminar on international relations! The speaker was awesome. He said the world needs more brotherly love. Speaking of brotherly love, can you loan a fellow black man some green, say $20? I’m a bit short right now.”

My hand was in my pocket before Autry’s face appeared before me and his words rang in my ears. I ran!

Last week, I was with Gene (NOT around a domino table).

He told me this: “Recently, I was on the road with friends when a man appeared from nowhere. He hugged me tightly and said of me to my friends ‘This is the greatest domino player in the world!’ Guess who?”

Me: “Who?”

“The DUNCE!! Then he hugged me closer and whispered in my ear ‘Can you spare me some green? $1,000?’ G, before I knew it, my wallet was out IN FRONT OF MY FRIENDS and the cash was safely deposited with him.”

Plus ça change…

Memories of choices and colours came flooding back as I listened to Joseph Patterson, leader of an embryonic political party, being interviewed by Haemorrhoid’s favourite broadcaster, Danielle Archer. Apparently, the United Independents Congress (UIC) applied for registration under new electoral rules and complied with every pre-condition.

Patterson accused the EOJ of creating obstacles to registration using Chinese water-torture methods. The latest inanity was to inform UIC, months after application, that it couldn’t use green in its party colours. JLP has a patent?

If you had a choice of colours

which one would you choose my brothers?

If there was no day or night

which would you prefer to be right?

So, green was removed. Months later, UIC was told red wasn’t acceptable. PNP patent? UIC removed red. But with only seven colours in the rainbow, what the granny’s gisnick is this? Not even a mixture of colours is permissible? Is segregation the only way?

“How long have you hated your white teacher

who told you, you love your black preacher?

Do you respect your brother’s woman friend

and share with black folks not of kin?”

I like this UIC because its platform is based on a need for constitutional reform. I know. Been there (NDM). Failed at that! But why?

- NDM was formed for suspect motives by old-style politicians;

- Its message was before its time.

NDM’s eventual demise and members’ mass return to JLP seemed to confirm suspicions. But the message is one whose time may now have come.

So, EOJ do betta dan dat! ’Low di people fi register dem party! Don’t mek dem haffi beg fi green.

“People must prove (to the people)

a better day is coming for you and for me.

With just a little bit more education

and love for our nation

would make a better society.”

Curtis Mayfield was an iconic songwriter. With the Impressions, he recorded some monster hits, including 1969’s Choice of Colours. Little-known fact: Mayfield was Bob Marley’s earliest and most significant inspiration.

Peace and love!

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.