We had to make the most of our costumes, so we really enjoyed the chance of being a part of the annual RI Halloween Parade. This year there were hundreds of children and adults and even a marching band. I was conscious of being in and enjoying the moment — there was only one other family with homemade costumes so who knows if Mr. C will remain enthusiastic about homegrown creativity? (I also learned that Jay created a very credible Darth Vader costume in his youth.)
On Sunday evening we did some trick-or-treating, but C enjoyed much more dishing out treats to the more than 170 children who hit our apartment on their Trick-or-treat route. We decorated the entryway with gourds, our carved pumpkin and lots of orange and black streamers, and handed out the treats from a Number 2 pootjie. (A traditional South African cast iron pot.)
The weekend reinforced the plenitude of America, which always amazes me. This past weekend that came in the form of the fully sponsored halloween carnival for children on the island by the RIOC. Every child received a goodie bag of treats and endless free rides on miniature carousels, jumping castles of various sizes, obstacle courses, slides and pirate ships. The candy floss (known here as ‘cotton candy’) and popcorn flowed freely. (I hope those RIOC critics took equal note of these efforts which were deserving of praise in my book.)
The only vaguely comparable experience in my childhood was the annual Pretoria Show, an agricultural fair that came complete with livestock competitions, show jumping, a fun fair with rides, and vendors hawking everything from the best new vegetable peeler to caravans to lounge furniture you could buy on lay-by. I enjoyed the annual outing with my parents and, on reflection, it was one of the few times I can think of being at the same event with people of some — but not all — colour. We few Chinese families and our Indian and Colored friends stood out in the sea of white, but we rarely ran into aggressive discrimination.
This weekend, I thought of what a wonderful thing it is for a child to have fun in a sea of diversity. (And on this island we have great diversity of income, ethnicity, nationality, religion and disability.) And for a child to have fun unadulterated by the spectre of the politics of prejudice, where when your mom asks you to remember your manners you do so only because its the polite thing to do, not because you’re acutely aware that your every move also carries the weight of fueling or contradicting a racial stereotype or inviting a slur. How wonderful that times do change.
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