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Stateside With Rosalea: Here Be Dragons!

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Here Be Dragons!

I could have sworn I'd fallen into a gap in the space-time continuum yesterday and warped my way back a decade to Courtenay Place, Wellington. Just as I got off the bus in my local neighbourhood, a dragon appeared, dancing outside the door of Farmer Joe's Market, setting off firecrackers and snatching the lettuce dangling in the doorway. Adding to the CP effect, a sign across the street says King Kong. (It's the name of a takeaway.)

Saturday night saw the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco. The local Fox affiliate broadcast it in HD, so I didn't even have to go out into the mild, sunny, beautiful evening and brave the half-a-million-strong crowds to watch it. Not that I've got HD--I've barely got TV reception at all, to be honest. But at least that's the only snow I had to deal with, unlike the folks on the East Coast.

The commentary wasn't TOO awful. God knows, it must feel like you've drawn the short straw if you're the celebrity and/or newscaster chosen to read the fluff that's written about parade participants. I wonder if the hosts get cramp from having fingers all the while crossed that the rest of the crew has somehow managed to rustle up an image that matches the script.

The other cultural event being celebrated here in the States at the moment is Black History Month. The person chosen for the commemorative stamp this year is Hattie McDaniel, whose claim to fame I had to inquire of from the woman working at the post office. When I was told, I had to look again at the image on the stamp to reconcile this beautiful, composed, and graceful woman with Mammy from Gone With the Wind.

During her lifetime, McDaniel received criticism for being willing to play the stereotypical role of a servant, but her reply was that she'd rather receive the pay she got to play one than the pay she got to be one. As she'd often had to support herself as a domestic, a cook, or a washerwoman, she knew what she was talking about.

On one website about Hattie, I came across the astonishing news-to-me that when Gone With the Wind was premiered in segregated Atlanta in 1939, not only was Hattie McDaniel not allowed to attend the screening, but the programmes had to be reprinted because the good white folks of that city objected to seeing a black woman’s photo on the back cover.

*************

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

--PEACE--

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