Wednesday, December 19, 2007

January 20, 2001 (Diary of Tim Scheft)

Read the introduction to the diary here.

January 20, 2001
Dear book of thoughts,

As days go, this was a fairly good day. Unlike most people I celebrated Martin Luther King day today. Others like to take the day for-granted, by sleeping in and tipping black waiters extra. No I got up early this morning and boarded the C train. Or the F train. I've lived in NYC since Carter was president and I still don't know the subway configurations. I'm such a dunce.

I boarded the train and went north to Harlem. The place of choice where white people decide to go, when they wish to never be seen again. As I left the subway station, I marveled at how efficient muggings had become. They have now streamlined it to the point where there is no interaction. There is just a sign with a basket below it that reads "Please place all wallets, purses and all valuables in the basket below. Thank you for your cooperation. -Management".

I left the subway station and then embarked on my day of honoring MLK. After acquiring a cardboard piece and a two by four, I began to march down 120th St. next to Marcus Garvey Memorial Park. I began to get into the spirt of the march and began to chant "Down with white america.", which I later recanted when I saw Bill Clinton jogging by. Deciding to keep it funky, I walked to the opposite side of the park and found a procession of marchers, led by none other, Al Sharpton. I of course smiled at his hair (as I always do) and decided to join the procession. I was immediately thrown a few glances of curiosity. One man even approached me and asked to see my NAACP card, which is a requirement for an Al Sharpton march. I had my card revoked in the early 90's, which was a part of the NAACP's effort to retaliate against the Rodney King trials.

I became increasingly paranoid after awhile, partly because I was being followed by a few large black men in bow ties and black rimmed glasses. I wasn't sure if they were Republicans or if they were part of a made for TV movie about Elijah Mohammed.

It was quite the spectacle. I listened to speeches from Mr. Sharpton, Eugene Levy, Chaka Kahn, and the highlight, Donald Trump. Trump gave a heartfelt speech that would even rival MLK's march on Washington speech. I only say that, because...well he said it did. I also got to learn a dance which I think the kids call the Harlem Shuffle. You can never underestimate the learning of a new dance and it's affect on the community.

Eventually it started to get late in the day and I hadn't walked my dog yet, so I decided to make a break for it. It's almost impossible to leave a march in progress. Understandably not everyone can follow a march until the end, but for those who leave it, they are often ostracized or manhandled like the late Johnny Schakelman. He left a march for breast cancer (supposedly to go watch TV) and a group of angry women accosted him the next day and gave him breast cancer, which oddly I found out, isn't a contagious disease.

I learned a lot that day. Mainly that if a man puts his hand in his pocket and motions you to get in his van, be sure to get his license plates and his dental records (if available). And if you have a dream, make sure it's when you're sleeping because people might use it out of context.

No comments: