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The road taken: tribute to a brilliant blue-collar worker

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This poem was written after I observed that a front-page newspaper story about a black Bermudian male was printed on the same day his sibling's funeral notice — Brother Blue Collar Worker or “BCW” — finally showed up on the back pages of the newspaper. This tribute is to Everyman, especially those whose stories, dreams and brilliance have been silenced by lonely tombstones and faded flowers; and to our master tradesmen, who, as teenage boys, often had to surrender academic aspirations and childhood fun in order to become the primary “breadwinners” for your mothers and funders of your siblings' education ... Thank you. May we hear your pain, accept our complicity, celebrate your wisdom and commit to creating processes and systems that can heal and honour your legacies ...

***

Sad commentary on the lives of two brothers — two black men,

One whose name has gone down in Bermudian infamy.

And another who, like many others, was lowered into a grave in obscurity. Both broken. Sad day today.

Brother Blue Collar acquired the Bermudian dream of a house but never made a home.

Never found his Eve. Never had his kid.

Just how they scripted it.

Group home. Devon Lane. Hard worker. No father listed on his obituary.

A white man he never knew, he claimed.

That's why his hair was so straight, he would remind those he knew.

So much unsaid. So much pain he carried. But he worked hard, voted, paid his taxes, right?!

Just how they scripted it ... no pension to pay a dead blue-collar worker.

But he was so much more than a blue-collar worker.

He cared about people ... his homeless brother whom he fed at City Hall,

Bermudian athletes whom he adored like international icons, hungry pigeons he shared his store-bought meals with, and you and me — his people.

You should know his homeless brother was also a brilliant former utility company employee, he claimed, who also once owned a piece of the rock.

This brother of his would never accept Brother Blue Collar Worker's invitation to live with him. He didn't forget those who were kind to him.

I remember seeing him at a prominent black leader's funeral, respectfully standing over the grave to express gratitude for defending his brother, the other family member in the paper today; the one who has been controversially — and perhaps unjustifiably — vilified.

Abuse at a foster home. Unchristlike Christians.

Coercion into the baptismal pool ... actually they dunked him in the ocean. Forgotten once his name was added to the church books and the crusade quota had been met.

Do Better Church, it was. Not Lead with Love Fellowship as the paper wrongly noted or someone incorrectly communicated.

Lover of sports. Harmless. Bullied.

Controversial official. Diehard fan. Riding to work in fear.

The recipient of many f-offs.

Living a life of fear. The punchline of too many jokes.

Bermudians like to drink. Cover-up ... for his pain — and ours too!

Admirer of “local” celebrities ... former athletes whom he looked up to as they made fun of him. Broken. Anonymous. Seeking love, fulfilling lust.

Did she help him or leave him alone to die?

Hard way to go, Brother BCW.

Sadly, just another joke for the boys to crack about him in his absence ... his permanent absence six feet under as relatives and mistresses argue over his estate, recheck his will and sell the piece of the rock he thought was his.

I wonder if anyone else noticed the connection between the two dead black brothers on the front and back pages of the newspaper.

I wonder if he was saved. Sigh.

Blessed to have met you, Brother BCW.

Glad I obeyed God on the morning He told me to take a ride on South Shore the day we met.

I was tired of seeing you abused, bro. Heard one too many fans and players curse you off.

Glad I got to share the Father's love. Sorry I couldn't do more.

Not sure you got it, but at least you knew I cared.

God, I hope you're saved!

If you didn't make it, you will have at least one person who will be looking out at you through the walls of the New Jerusalem with tears to be wiped away.

Two roads diverged on the road of life and I'm glad I didn't have yours because I can't promise that my path would have been any different.

Not just “BCW”, Blue Collar Worker, or some crude nickname hurled off of drunken lips.

His name was Brother Blue Collar Worker, Dr Blue Collar Worker even! ...

And he was my brilliant brother,

Your amazing uncle, the barbershop politician,

Today's student, tomorrow's leader,

A gombey chaser, our misunderstood father,

The grump on the couch, a generation's grandfather,

Her godpa, his cousin,

The practical jokester, someone's baby boy ...

He loved us and we should have loved him better.

He deserved more. I miss him.

Whose justice was really denied and who was the real third man?

Looked for his funeral notice for over four weeks. Did many others care?

Puts my day into perspective ... water damage to our home.

Frustrated. Overwhelmed with projects.

Time to grow up and get up! No more moping around. I have it easy.

Can you relate?

I love you. You matter.

AUGUSTUS FUNERAL HOME regrets to announce the death of Mr Bermudian Blue Collar Worker. A homegoing service for Mr Bermudian Blue Collar Worker, son of the late Mrs “I Did the Best I Could”, brother to Hope, Courage (Adversity), Faith and the late Resilience, Persistence and Triumph in his 65th year of 7 Hidden Gem Lane, Apt #4, Pink Sand Parish, will be held at Do Better Church in Pink Sand Parish TODAY, May 24, 2014 at 3pm. Interment will follow at Stop the Secrets Cemetery. Flowers may be sent. THERE WILL BE NO VIEWING. Also surviving are nephews Cycle Breaker, Victor (Joy), Legacy (Believe); nieces Jewel, Promise, Chosen (King); other nieces and nephews too numerous to mention; special friends I Can, I Will, We Must; Sports Clubs & Country Clubs International; and the Blue and White Collar Workers Association. Bright colours may be worn. He was a success. His life was not in vain.

Extracted from Border Crossing Brothas: Black Males Navigating Race, Place and Complex Space by Ty-Ron Douglas, PhD. Published by Peter Lang Publishing on October 4 for $38 ($42.95 in the United States). Dr Douglas will be available for the book launch at Brown & Co today from 6.30pm before serving as keynote speaker on Wednesday at the Fifth Annual International Colloquium on Black Males in Education at The Fairmont Southampton

Power of the pen: Bermudian author Ty-Ron Douglas, who will be at his book launch today at Brown & Co from 6.30pm

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Published October 04, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 04, 2016 at 7:06 am)

The road taken: tribute to a brilliant blue-collar worker

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