100 Meters: Emancipation Day Gift

Today, I woke up with one thing on my lazy Saturday morning mind: Watching the finals of the Tokyo Olympics women’s 100 metres finals. 

As the finalists lined up, I felt anxious and nervous. My heart pounded like a vibrant and energetic Tassa drummer “beating the daylight” out of the drum.  The wait seemed eternal. As I waited, my critical mind cleared away the sargassum weeds of nervousness and anxiety.  

I thought: “What an interesting line up for the finals!” On the outside and inner lanes are representatives of former and present imperialist countries – United Kingdom in lane 2, United States in lane three, and Switzerland in lanes 8 and 9. The former colonial countries, Jamaicans in lane 7 (Shericka Jackson), lane 5 (Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce), and lane four (Elaine Thompson-Herah), with an Ivory Coast (former French colony) representative in lane six.

“Will these super powers and former colonial nations continue to suffocate us?”  I thought.  Or, “Will this 21st century generation awaken the spirit of our ferocious women ancestors and continue the liberation struggle in this race?” 

The race result was an archetype of the liberation struggle. Despite being sandwiched at the start of the Great Race of Life, all three conquered nations conquered the conqueror. Jamaica leading the struggle with one, two, three, and Ivory Coast finishing fourth. This race must go down in history as an archetype of liberation struggles.

By the fifty-metre mark, my anxiety and nervousness turned to joy.  I joined the Psalmist in singing, “They go out, they go out, full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing: they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves” (Psalm 26:6).

Fraser-Pryce’s response to a journalist’s question sealed this race as a liberation archetype.  The reporter: “Speak about the importance of this final for YOU?” Take note of the word, “YOU.” In response, Fraser-Pyrce responded in the first-person plural, “WE.”  “WE are celebrating for OUR team members . . . WE are celebrating for the next generation. . . to understand how important and valued they are . . . and the need to work hard.”

Liberation struggle is not solely about personal victory. Personal victory is a victory for all – a means of strengthening the weary and those with limping feet.

I leave with you a WhatsApp message from a Caribbean woman, Gloria Bertrand, about women who are the leaders of the Caribbean liberation struggle. “Those 3 women are magnificent, they were confident, ah felt good as a Caribbean woman.”

Blessed Emancipation Day!

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