So islandistas, I know you’ve all seen the viral video of the NYPD officers wukking up with revellers at New York City’s Labour Day carnival.
And no doubt, many of you have sucked your teeth at the hysterical, puritanical response it has gotten in the American media.
From the New York Daily News’ nasty, degrading description of it as the officers looking like they “were in the middle of a much-needed conjugal visit” to Essence’s sly, snide commentary by Demetria Lucas, the response has by and large been culturally disrespectful of West Indians.
First, I have major issues with the fact that it’s being widely described as “dirty dancing”.
Dirty? My culture is not dirty. Because you can’t understand that soca music and the way we dance to it is about joyful celebration and release from the daily grind and all you can see is sex because a waistline is involved, that makes it dirty? How dare you.
Second, I scoff at the weak argument that the officers should not have been wining because shootings went on that weekend and along the parade route itself and that the officers were there to “protect and serve.” First, the shootings did not happen in the area they were monitoring – I highly doubt they would be allowed to leave the area where they were posted to respond to a shooting blocks away where other officers were already posted.
And if a shooting or other violent incident did happen in their area, how does their jonesing and wukking up really detract from their ability to serve and protect? Do people think they were going to tell a gunman “hold on dey padna – I just tiefing a wine hey.” No! If something happened, wining stops and wrestling to the ground and handcuffing starts.
Really, give me a break. Miss Lucas claimed she was “putting the outrage in context” but that is not context at all. Wining and protecting citizenry are not mutually exclusive or incompatible. Absolute nonsense.
What makes the American media response look even more silly is the way more relaxed and culturally understanding response of the British to a similar video of an officer – PC Simon Lawrence, skanking at the Notting Hill Carnival. PC Lawrence said:
“The dance was an impulse, not a planned thing. It’s what I do naturally. People are there and egg you on, so you join in the fun. Sometimes in the past we have felt we were gatecrashing the party. But if you break down the barriers and take part, it tends to work. I find it makes the day go a lot quicker than standing there just looking.”
The Daily Mail (which can be as bad as NY Daily News when it comes to being conservative and denigrating), in an actually celebratory piece on PC Lawrence, quoted a Metropolitan Police source as saying:
“‘PC Lawrence certainly did his bit to help community relations and we are delighted his performance won him a worldwide audience.’”
Now how about that?
As it so happens, the poor NYPD officers who are now under investigation, seemed to have done their bit to help community relations as well – witness the crowds cheering and high-fiving the officers as they passed by. Considering the tense relationship both the Met Police and the NYPD have had with black and immigrant communities, I would think this is a good thing.
In conclusion, these people denigrating our culture need some Rudder in dey tail to understand what is really going on. The lyrics to his classic ‘Calypso Music’ explain so beautifully.
It is a living vibration
Rooted deep within my Caribbean belly
Lyrics to make a politician cringe
Or turn a woman’s body into jelly
It is sweet soca music … calypso
You could ah never refuse it… calypso
It make you shake like a Shango … now calypso
Why it is you shaking, you dont know.