July 1, 2009

Race, Class, and the “Ice Age”: A trip to the cinema at the Sovereign in Kingston

My children have been anxious to see “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” ever since they saw the advertisements on television for the movie. In general, it has been a challenge for us to get used to having cable television. Back in the US, we don’t have cable, and only allow the children to watch DVDs from the library and the free ones in the children’s section of Family Video. The advantage of this, besides saving money, is that there are no commercials to speak of on DVDs.

A constant diet of cable television and thus commercials, has sparked a desire in my children for all sorts of toys and other consumer items of which they had previously been unaware. The system I have developed is that whenever they ask for “Bendaroos” or “Chixso girls,” I tell them to put it on a list so that when Christmas comes around, they will have some ideas for a list for Santa. This seems to be working so far. “Ice Age,” however couldn’t exactly go on a Christmas list. So, I decided that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to let them go to the movies.

I found a friend also interested in taking her kids to the movies, and she had the brilliant idea of dropping them off at the movie theatre. So, we dropped them off with a large bucket of popcorn, and I instructed the girls not to leave the movie theatre under any circumstances. Lucky for me, downstairs, there was a lovely coffee shop also in Sovereign Mall – The Blue Café.
I parked myself at a table, and ordered a “blueccino,” a sweet, delicious frozen coffee drink. Just the inspiration I needed to finish the final revisions of my article. About two weeks ago, I received notice that an article I wrote on race and color classifications in Peru has been conditionally accepted by a top Sociology journal. I have been working on the revisions this week. And, with the extra time I had this afternoon at the café, I was able to send it off to the Editor! That is a relief!

I don’t have access to a printer, and that would be the first time I have submitted an article for publication without printing it out and going over it with a fine-tooth comb. Well, except for the book review I submitted a few days ago. Anyway, I had closely edited it before sending it out, and I am being more ecological this way. My normal practice had been to print out each version as I revise.

At any rate, it’s off, and I am glad about that! Once I sent it off, I had the opportunity to observe my surroundings here in Sovereign Mall, an upscale shopping center in New Kingston.

The first thing I must admit is that I can’t get over the fact that there really are white Jamaicans. I mean, I knew that there were some, but it is still surprising. I have to really try hard not to stare when I hear white people speaking with a noticeable Jamaican accent. And, in this upscale coffee shop, it seems as though I have seen more white Jamaicans in the past hour than I have in my entire time in Kingston! In addition to white Jamaicans, there are also a remarkable number of foreigners passing through the coffee shop. Overall, the demographics at this mall look a lot more like what I saw at the Hilton than any other place I’ve seen in Kingston.

I suppose any city has remarkable inequalities. And, Kingston shares with most cities a sharp divide between the rich and the poor. Sitting in hardwood chair with a white leather seat cover, typing away on my laptop, it is hard to believe the poverty that lies just a few kilometers away.

Well, enough musing, I’d best get back to the cinema to make sure the children don’t decide to roam around the mall in search of all of those toys they have seen on television!

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