Politics/World Issues, Race Relations

The $5 Million Dollar Dialogue: The UN’s Conversation about the Slavery Memorial

Lovin' this guy.

UN Article

I’m at the General Assembly for the Transatlantic Slave Trade Memorial. It’s held at the UN, where a lot of countries from around the world come and give their two cents (or $50,000) regarding a memorial that will be built to honor victims of slavery. And it is soooo boring. I’m not quite sure how I got on this list, but I’m happy to be here and I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. I jotted down several notes in the margin of my little book,(In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers, by Deborah Reber) since I brought no real paper.  I’ve decided to tell you 30 thoughts I had about this conversation, and about my first experience at the UN in general. So, here it goes, much ado about nothing:

  1. I’m disappointed in the UN. The canolis cost 4 bucks. The coffee shop doesn’t take credit cards and is overall inefficient. No one speaks English or even knows the prices of anything.
  2. Everyone in this assembly is way too serious. And I wish they would stop say the words “transatlanctic slave trade.” Haven’t they ever heard of the law of attraction?
  3. There is a man here (who I later found out was a rep for Tanzania) says that he is talking on behalf of the African people. But all he keeps talking about is oppression, struggle, and injustice. I’m sorry, but that is not my reality. So, speak for yourself.
  4. There is illuminati symbolism everywhere. (See this link to know more, but be careful, it will change the way you see everything, forever. http://vigilantcitizen.com/)
  5. It looks like a lot countries decided not to show up. Of course, Jamaica is here. The Jamaican woman from the General Consulate of Jamaica who signed me in here was rude and bossy. And she was the one who was late! The nerve.
  6. Nippon (Japan) is in the house! Haiti is here. Iraq. Israel. Maybe I can get a full list later. (Never happened but if I find it, I’ll let you know.)
  7. So, when you go to the General Assembly, you can get the speeches translated in real-time. For reasons I wish not to disclose, I am trying to brush up on my Spanish. I’m listening to the Jamaican rep’s speech in Spanish. It’s way more interesting this way. LOL, the translator got stuck. “Em…em…”
  8. I wonder how you get this job of translating UN speeches. My very conservative friend applied for a job here and hasn’t heard anything yet, and I actually know a very left-wing radical photographer who works here. How appropriate!
  9. This ish is DRY. They need a comedian to come in here and fuck it all up. (My slang for “make it fun.”) Chris Rock would be great for that. Hell, even Chris Tucker. I’ll even take Wayne Brady at this point. Did the translator just say something about Beyoncé? Ok, I think it’s time for me to turn the dial back to English now.
  10. Now they’re talking about money. $4.5 million dollars is how much more they’re trying to raise. Relatively speaking for memorials, that’s pretty low. (It cost over $1 Billion to build the 9/11 Memorial, but that only “affected” about 3,000 people. See how ridiculous it is to put a number on that type of thing? More on that later.) I still think that all that money could be used to actually help (read: feed and educate) people.
  11. The website for this project is www.slaverymemorial.org. How about changing the name to the Freedom Memorial! We should be thinking about Freedom!
  12. So they’re going to hire a professional fundraiser for the job, and they’re taking private and public donations. But I still say this, you don’t build a legacy of slavery, you build a legacy of freedom! They want to put this memorial in a prominent location, say, the visitors entrance of the UN, so that every time someone walks through the door, we can be reminded of this travesty. Is this really such a good idea considering how many people already hate each other for no reason?
  13. Suriname and Cuba is in the house. Ok, I can get with what he’s saying. He described the former slaves as having a “temper and rebel spirit” which is awesome. It’s not just exclusive to them though. I think I have that same fire in me. Guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree! (Ouch! Strange Fruit reference.  Others that would have worked: “the lynched man doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” “the pickaninny doesn’t run too far from the cotton field”…you got it.)
  14. Ok. I see the rep. for Guinea. I think he’s on his laptop tweeting this whole ordeal. Or is he on Facebook?
  15. Cuba’s speech was short and sweet, and full of flavor like a pressed pork sandwich. I would expect nothing less from the home place of good ol Fidel, and the political asylum of the Black Liberation Queen, Assata Shakur. Her autobiography is quite delicious. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assata_Shakur
  16. Old white man from Australia is speaking. Everybody is quiet. Every time a new country’s representative comes up to speak, they quote a number that they probably just Googled of how many people were affected by the slave trade. As if you can put a number on that! The funny thing is, I think each country said a different number, yet the monotony of the speakers themselves is killing me! Add me to the list.
  17. I don’t know, but I find the quote “remembering the dark part of our history” somewhat disturbing and offensive. Are dark people going anywhere? You don’t have to “remember” us, you have to face us, right now!
  18. National End to Racism Strategy=everyone one race? Something tells me they’re talking in code.
  19. Brazil rep is up. Oh Come on! I thought she was gonna be hot! She looks homelier than a worn out house coat. In fact, she IS a house coat! (Ok, low blow, I know, but it made me lol.)
  20. There are people walking up and down the aisle, passing out papers.
  21. I’m having a hard time staying awake.
  22. The rep for the US is a Black Man. Hey! I saw him in the cafe. A fellow journalist said “He should have stayed there.” He talked about reducing inequality. But this is the US, so we must be sure not to eliminate it completely. Wow! He didn’t mention Black History Month as African American History Month. Did I miss the memo that this was the politically correct title of the so very racist nod to our collective humanity’s history! (By the way, he did not seem prepared at all. He was stumbling over so many words I thought he was running for his life from the lynch mob. Or the NYPD.
  23. Side note:  ***Do you remember what happened with Sean Bell? The NYPD shot him 50 times. Now, you decide for  yourself was it a murder or an “accident?” You know my slant. But I respect your brain so I will provide the neutral Wiki article on Sean Bell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Bell_shooting_incident (the watered down shit) and then the Revolutionary Communist’s Party’s take on it: http://rwor.org/a/071/nyc-police-shooting-en.html***
  24. Israel is up. Now this is gonna be real interesting. “Hope without memory is like memory without hope.” Really? What does that even mean? And wait…HE’S NOT PALESTINIAN.
  25. I’m so surprised he didn’t mention that thing. You know that thing that happened? You know, the Holocaust? So much for memory. It seems like anytime a Jewish person gets a chance they mention the Holocaust. Yet they always downplay the impact of slavery. Must be why they’re only contributing $20,000 to this very important memorial. (Other smaller countries, like Haiti, even contributed more.)
  26. Luxembourg rep is looking snazzy. Black slim fit jacket, crisp white shirt, red tie. Very dapper. I love those European cut suits. Can’t wait to start traveling again. Jet Blue needs to hurry up and respond to my application!
  27. I just find it so funny that they keep saying “dark chapter of our history.” I mean who wrote these people’s speeches. Is this all that they could come up with?
  28. Now India’s rep is interesting. He looks like a plumper version of Osama Bin Laden (R.I.P.) He sounds like the guy who does customer service for HSBC. Also the guys at Milon. (Great Bangladeshi food!)
  29. After the speeches were over, we had the option of staying. That was when most of the press took the opportunity to leave. I got a chance to talk to a fellow journalist about what we had heard that day. She says think of it like this: 4.5 million dollars isn’t a lot relatively. Visibility of this memorial+correlating educational programs=awareness. With the world we live in, a world of ideas, a world ruled by symbols and not rules or laws, we need that. She also told me about the racism prevalent in the UN building itself. No respect. When we sat down, we were approached by the white security guard and told that only press was allowed to sit in those seats. All of our group was Black. This is apparently not a coincidence. In fact, she was accredited with the UN for 9 years, and as a sign of protest to the racism there, she canceled her accreditation. Ballsy!
  30. I would love to sit down and talk to her more, maybe do an episode of http://www.youtube.com/helesetalks interviewing her. That would be a great conversation. And it sure as hell wouldn’t cost $5,000,000 dollars.

Let me know what you think. This is my first article on any type of international relations issues. I hope I made you proud.

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2 thoughts on “The $5 Million Dollar Dialogue: The UN’s Conversation about the Slavery Memorial

  1. Pingback: What the F*CK Have I Been Doing? | Helese TALKS!

  2. It’s ironic that they want to remember our “dark history” but not our fucked up present. The shackles exist. The lychings exist. The plantations exist. The physical torment exists. But now it’s just called prison, police brutality, project housing and minimum wage jobs, and vaccinations.
    I’m not that person who walks around with hate and resentment for the disgusting treatment that my ancestors, grandparents, parents, and myself have received because of our race. But I also don’t pretend that progress is the word of the day. There are so many holes and inconsistencies in how they deal with the topic that it’s really hard for me to take America (and the UN) and their response to “our dark history” seriously.
    And about the holocaust…I hate to even compare because I mean come on, that shit didn’t even happen here. Meanwhile, I can drive down a back road in my grandmother’s town of Commerce, GA and see all the residue of the “s” word. Railroad dividing the town, huge plantation estates, etc. So yeah, Isreal was right not to mention it. I don’t wanna say who cares but…who cares?!

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