Thursday, March 30, 2006
Spring Swing & Being Black
My roommate had this brain storm last summer to organize a swing dance. First day of uni she rushes to welcome me back to the apartment by telling me her ideas while her hands were full with my baggage. Finally last Saturday she saw her work bear fruits. We actually pulled off a swing dance in our little town and it was a success. There was a live jazz band playing all night with a canary chirping some tunes in between. Actually there were three jazz bands and they would take turns playing. We also had a non-alcoholic bar. In between dancing you could go request a kiss on the beach (Just to be PC), a virgin Shirley temple , a virgin pina colada among other things. More than that though was seeing all the students, faculty and community turn up dressed to the nines. I mean I am talking a dead ringer for the 1920-40's era. So we swung the night away. I had to sell tickets cause I was using any excuse not to be on the dance floor. As the night progressed I breathed easy. In walked all the basketball players and off course they wanted in for free. Since they were in our organization I let them slide in. Nico came outside to hang out with me and said we have to go dance at least once. I laughed the suggestion off and continued selling tickets. Ochieng walked in. I had seen him at the swing dance practice we had conducted and he was wearing a shirt with a kenyan logo. I didn't have time to talk to him then but here was a perfect opportunity. As I stamped the back his hands I casually asked him if he was from Kenya. He replied in the affirmative and we talked in kiswahili for a few minutes. Knowing he was with his date I didn't want to interrupt his evening I was just happy to have someone to talk to in Kiswahili. I ushered him into the ballroom but as he walked away he gave me his card, asking me to call him sometimes.
Nico was true to his word, he had gone to get my roommate to sell the tickets while we danced. Nico was a Californian with a Latino ancestry so he could move very well on the dance floor. We danced three songs in succession and I was dizzy for all the spins we were doing. I begged off and went to get a pina colada. The evening went well. I got to dance with Nico again after dancing with Dee and Chicago (Joe). It was a success in my book but my roommate the perfectionist thought we could have done better. So all hyped up we packed the drinks into my trunk and decided to get an early breakfast. Climbing into my car was a couple of other friends and we set out. Maintaining my speed limit we drove to the other side of town. I can't drive without the music blasting and since we were all hype the other guys joined in the merriment. Suddenly the red and blue light flashed in my rear view mirror. I turned the volume knob down and pulled over wondering why I was pulled over.
The cop swaggered to my side as his friend flashed his flashlight at my car occupants. I handed over my license and registration to him when asked. He asked me to sit tight while he ran my license. While we were waiting my friends asked if I was speeding and I said No. I was going within limits. So we started questioning why we got stopped and inevitably we came to the race card. We were all of dark complexion in the car and driving around in the wee hours of the morning with music blasting. My blood boiled as my face started burning at the indignation of being pulled over. I heard a tap at my window and the cop handed me back my documents. He explained he stopped me because my front tag was outdated but the back one was current. WHAT? He took away 20 mins of our lives for something that if he looked at my registration would have seen it was current. I shut my mouth as an outburst was forthcoming. Smiling sweetly I said no worries and pulled away. During our whole breakfast we ranted and berated the American system. Hey I thought we have tunnel of oppression program coming up in a couple weeks that we have to prepare for. How about doing a piece on oppression disguised in the 21st century. This weekend we get to work on it and hopefully I will have plenty of pics to share as we set up our tunnel.