This weekend is the most dynamic in the history of our borough (Brooklyn). You can taste the tamarind sauce in the air and you can feel the soca rhythms becoming one with your heartbeat. Labor Day weekend means only one thing to me as a Caribbean; Bacchanal Time (In other words it is time to, as we say to "Get On Bad").
The shops of Flatbush Ave are momentarily transformed into spaces that literally create the experience that is known as Carnival AKA the Caribbean Labor Day Parade on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. This parade is surprisingly the best kept secret in New York, despite the fact that this traditional parade is older than me and draws millions every year, many people still haven't heard of it.
Brooklyn is buzzing with excitement as Caribbean immigrants cover their cars, apartment windows and their bodies in their respective flags.
I am heavily influenced by Caribbean culture, because it is an integral part of who I am, and in this parade I cant help but see a beautiful amalgamation of both art and life. Looking at all of the beautiful costumes, smelling all of that delicious food, and watching people "wok up deh waist" my mind wanders off the works of Earl Lovelace's The Dragon Can't Dance, Oonya Kempadoos All Decent Animals, or CLR James' Minty Alley whenever I am on "The Parkway". I think of how these works connect the beauty of Caribbean culture into different narratives representing multiple perspectives of life in the Caribbean. It also helps those who are new to Caribbean culture to contextualize the importance of the Caribbean Parade and how it helps keep us connected to both our culture and our homelands.
If you're in Brooklyn today you should definitely grab a flag (any island is welcome) and head to the parade to have the opportunity to indulge in the costumes, the food, the music, the culture, and the people.
Every time I see these costumes I am absolutely in awe of their beauty, but I am also extra appreciative because I am aware of the effort and the months of work (sometimes an entire year) that are necessary to get a costume of this magnitude ready for the parade grounds.
I am incapable of being impartial to my flag from my home, the island of Dominica. We were recently ravaged by Tropical Storm Erika and we are in a state of disaster at the moment, but we are strong and we will get through this. #StandTallDominica.
"Après Bondie, C'est La Ter"
If you can't make it out to The Parkway, at least you can live vicariously through
Bunji Garlin :) You're Welcome
- Lisa D.