Trinidad and Tobago


Finally, a nice black day

Apr 11, 2001

DON JUAN, the lead character in Derek Walcott’s Joker of Seville confidently asserts that "God loves his own jokes."

And given the way in which God this year organised for Good Friday to fall on April 13th, a day already tagged as Black Friday, it is easy to agree with The Don.

The paralleling of Christianity’s most precious and painful experience, the martyrdom of Jesus Christ with Friday 13, a date historically steeped in satanic imagery, must mean that God is using his famous humour to make a point, by gently smothering little Jason in The Robe.

Mark you, the battle between good and evil continues "on screen" as they say in Star Trek and with predictable indiscretion, as HBO airs three of Jason’s devilish Friday the 13th horror movies from 1.30 a.m. on the sacred day.

Meanwhile, while city officials in Melbourne, Australia, desperate to scuttle planned showings of the equally demonic Exorcist, invoked an old law debarring cinemas from airing adults-only movies on that day. God, I suppose, made them do it.

The whole thing is enough to make your head spin, such an over-reaction here on earth, when all God is really trying to do in this characteristically melodramatic demonstration, is elevate the colour black by a single notch. Joining these two Friday observances might well be His way of dismantling bigotry, by bringing home to the prejudiced the compatibility of black and good.

The world has never been all fair. Every other colour has been allowed the comfort of duplicity. Each was assigned a totally pleasant aura for marketing purposes, but allowed to stealthily develop a dark side, without reference to The Creator.

Being white, once synonymous with being right, could also mean experiencing fright, if a sheet is the reference position.

Green shares its credit for rejuvenation with envy, one of the seven deadly sins. Yellow offers hope (when cut to ribbons and tied around old oak trees) but is simultaneously the agreed tint of cowardice. You can actually sing beautifully about the dreaded blues and a red-letter day is a mere shade above a pink slip.

But black, my dear brothers and sisters, just never had it that good, ranking only as the colour of trauma and suffering. People die from being in black holes, whether in Calcutta or outer space. Delinquent debtors are blacklisted and the names of truant schoolboys put in black books. Every black mark in history was made to look like a blemish.

Hollywood, forever eager to entrench stereotypes, made all its bad guys wear black, a rule originally waived only for minorities or impaired heroes like Zorro and Hop-along Cassidy. Those who came to the set already black were invariably required to maintain the demeaning image of a people whose eyes and mouths opened to the same diameter, in response to even the slightest of astonishment.

Even when the celluloid conspiracy got over the urge to wipe out American Indians and denigrate blacks and took the fight to the ultimate level, Darth Vader, the super villain in their Star Wars epic, wore black. As if to balance such vulgar persecution of one tribe, both the powers and the principalities in latter-day joust, The Matrix, wore black.

But like continuing arguments about what colour Jesus Christ really was, the first image is difficult to erase. Without the slightest provocation, bad things were expected to happen on Black Friday and if in addition, a black cat crossed your path, the cumulative fate was just too much to ponder. The day was already black, you understand, so no good could possibly come of tempting it.

Even when chaos chooses another weekday to spew its malice, black is the preferred description of the resulting debacle. Let the stock market crash on a Tuesday, or even if the West Indies cricket team actually wins a Test series by the third day of play and see what colour commentators come up with.

On the other hand, Good Friday is the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified. It is a glorious day for Christians, who believe he died to absolve their sins (the lucky stiffs). Historically, the day enjoyed a tamper-resistant image, wobbling only once when, in a deliberate attempt to redefine insouciance, The Mighty Sparrow remarked: "Good Friday could fall on Ash Wednesday". Evidently, God loves Sparrow’s jokes too, so He let Good Friday actually fall on Black Friday.

This year, therefore, Good Friday’s customary signs and portents must, therefore, be taken in a different light. Instead of pouring the white of an egg into a bowl of water and leaving it to stand, a black substitute should be tried, to see if that also addles into the shape of things to come.

We might see Ato Boldon actually running for The House, fewer instances of spontaneous combustion among junior fire-officers, or Government suddenly becoming concerned about indigenous arts.

But let not avarice consume us. Let us take one miracle at a time and revel in the rarity of a benign black day, enjoying Easter from a fresh perspective and taking comfort from this first outward and visible sign as to what colour Jesus Christ really was.


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