Labor Day and Caribbean Day

Last night, I accompanied my cousin to Walmart and we reminisced on how we went to the Bronx every year for the Labor Day Parade, otherwise known as the West Indian Day Parade, otherwise known as Carnival. If you aren’t aware, the Labor Day Parade is a rambunctious event held between Utica Avenue and Grand Army Plaza along Eastern Parkway. For some reason, New England residents with roots to the Caribbean are supposed to follow their float faithfully. They decorate themselves in their colors, dive for the confetti, and “jump” whenever they hear Barone & Saik say so. I have a few memories getting caught in the bundles of people fighting, watching celebrators get nearly trampled over by the crowd, and running into that one gray-haired woman with just a flag around her body. But it is a sweaty mess of a time, I can’t deny that I regret being exposed to these things. I miss waking up early in the morning, stepping out onto my uncle’s fire escape, and hearing the bass of the party come up the street with the sunrise. I also mostly miss the smell of the shish kebabs but I don’t think that’s the point of Labor Day.

As I reminisced, I wondered what the purpose of the Labor Day Parade was. Growing up, I believed that it was because us Haitians were celebrating our freedom. I mean, why else would we devote a day off to dancing four miles on the dirty streets of New York? This morning, however, I really wondered what it was about because it seems like a coincidence that an American holiday for economic and social achievement is the same day as a celebration for liberating the entire Caribbean Island.

This is when I began wondering who even established this parade and if it was initially on Labor Day and what they thought when they discovered that Labor Day was the perfect day to have this parade. I wondered how many people were at the first parade and when it became so vast. I wondered if the Labor Day Parade even celebrates a real Caribbean holiday or if we’re just a bunch of Haitians and Jamaicans and Dominicans running around Crown Heights because we have a day off and it’s fun.

Of course Wikipedia easily settled all of my inquiries and I’ll keep them to myself to save you from my rambling. However, I am writing this to support the push in all you writers. Don’t confine yourself to the stupid guidelines literary magazines post. Sure, they may underline and emphasize that you must read before submitting and that they only publish literary fiction and not your silly experimental shorts, but how do you think Carlos Lezama felt in 1969 when he headed over with his committee to regain the parade permit? Furthermore, how do you think Jessie Waddell felt in the 20’s dressing up with her friends in these huge, ridiculous costumes?

No is never a definite answer as long as a man doubts getting married on his wedding day.

So, push the limits, get discovered, and change history. But not in the obnoxious way teenagers do just so they could tell a story.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.


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