Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Tag: racism

Human beings, not colour

“In those days racial segregation was a big thing. Lubbock was a very conservative town. When his daddy saw who his son had brought home he woudn’t let me in…I’ll bet they washed them dishes I ate off of about twenty times after we’d gone.”

img_0076The dinner guest that night was Little Richard. His hosts were Buddy Holly and his family.

As a way of promoting my Facebook fan page I joined a couple of ‘like, ladder” sites. They’ll like your page if you like theirs.  Fine. But tonight…

Someone posted a racist comment about Michelle Obama.

Politics aside, I’m always reminded of the John McCain rally when an old white woman grabbed the microphone and accused Barack Obama of being an Arab.

“No, ma’am, ” McCain said. “He’s a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s about.”

The disagreements part, in terms of issues, seems to have gone out the window.

McCain looks like Abraham Lincoln compared to Ivanka Trump’s father. Then again, so does George W. Bush and how sad is that?

Living in a bubble

But, if there’s anything the recent U.S. election taught is that both sides live in their respective bubbles. The other side is the enemy. Liars. Posting endless links from nut jobs sites or Fox “News” (look up “oxymoron” and you’ll see their log0).

Oddly enough, despite being a liberally minded  fella (but not an official Lib supporter) my feed was not overrrun with posts from MSNBC. Though I like Rachel Maddow. She’s smarter than 90% of the pundits on either side, combined. And lesbian. So what? I’d have a beer with her anytime.

You know what? I consider myself a citizen of the world. Proud Canadian but I’ve donated to Red Cross relief efforts from New Orleans to Haiti.


When I was a young lad growing up in Scarborough I remember sharing dinner with an East Indian family. We’re talking mid-70s. My dad, Joe O’Mara, worked in the insurance business and became friends with a co-worker named Joe Pereira.

I thought nothing of it at the time but I’m betting Dad’s other co-workers must have made derogatory comments, using words like Paki.

One of my school friends posted a class photo from Grade 7, Immacuate Heart of Mary, mid-’70s, and it reminded me of the girls I had crushes on (the Marcia Bradys of the day) but I’m always stuck by the beauty of  a classmate whose family came from Guyana, Kasslyn.

I’m sure I appreciated how attractive she was but my love map was set for blue-eyed blondes (still have a weakness for the latter).


Fast forward to the mid-80s when I’d moved away from home but came back to spend Christmas with my folks, and we went to the Sunday mass at IHM. We were chatting in the parking lot with an old Iris couple when a car pulled up beside us.

Out stepped a 20-ish couple. A Caucasian female and a West Indian male.

“Would you look at that,” the old Irish fellow said. “A white woman and a black man….bastard!”

img_0077Jeers to you, Mister Tierney.

I’d like to think we’ve come a long way since then but the election of you know who, and our pandering, which way is the wind blowing and I’ll champion their causes MP make me wonder if we’ve made much progress.

But…like Buddy Holly, who saw a person (and an incredibly talented one at that) and not colour, I’m hopeful that the majority of people who voted against Trump’s and Leitch’s parties will rally, speak out and protest to ensure our countries celebrate and protect all citizens, no matter where they came from.


The colour of love

Whether it’s a class photo from grade 7, or a high school yearbook, I’ve often studied the photos, paused and thought, “She’s pretty. Why didn’t I notice her back then?”

We’re talking mid to late ’70s and the answer is, her family was from Guyana or China.

Flash forwarded to the ’80s when I developed a crush on Terrilyn Joe, then the news anchor on Canada AM and later a local TV star in San Francisco .img_0015

I guess that as a child my views were influenced by friends and family. I grew up in Toronto (Scarborough, then a suburb and now part of the GTA) and even 40 years ago it was a multicultural city. My neighbourhood was mostly Caucasian though we did have a lovely neighbour from Guyana, who had married an Italian-Canadian carpenter.

At the time, interracial relationships were not accepted and who knows, that pretty girl from Grade 7 might have been told by her family that she could not date someone outside her race. Go back 2o years and I vividly recall attending church with my parents, on one of my holiday visits, and chatting in the parking lot with an old Irish fellow and his wife. Suddenly, his eyes were drawn to the arrival of a car and out stepped a young Caucasian woman…and a young black man.

“Would you look at that,” the old boy said. “A black man and a white woman…(directing his outrage towards the young man) bastard!”

As the host of a show devoted mostly to the early days of rock and roll I’m often reminded of how much the African American rhythm and blues of the ’40s and early ’50s shaped the music of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and eventually, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.


Mick Jagger wrote “Brown Sugar” about this model/actress, Marsha Hunt. She is the Mother of Jagger’s first child, Karis.

In researching the Rock and Roll Riot, I read biographies of  the genre’s pioneers, from Ruth Brown, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (not a nun but a gospel star and a superb guitarist) and Big Mama Thornton…and when we’re taking good lookin’ ladies, how about Lavern Baker, who sang the original Jim Dandy in 1956?

She was smokin’ hot! image

The great thing about maturity is that you eventually make up your own mind. Some never do, but I was able to shed the “what would my friends think” idea and discover (better late than never) that hey, beautiful is beautiful no matter the skin colour.

A few months ago, the credit card tap gizmo at a local gas gar didn’t work so I had to go inside to pay. Standing at the register was a gorgeous East Indian teen. Perfect features, stunning eyes. Peer pressure would have prevented the 18-year-old me from regarding a dark-skinned female with such awe and wonder. I was supposed to desire the blonde, blue-eyed cheerleaders and I certainly did.

I don’t feel any pride in coming to this realization. More a sense of sadness that I had been colour blind in reverse.

Anyone know if Terrilyn Joe is available?

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