The New Marshall Plan

By Desi Cortez, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: March 7, 2010

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Newton Marshall

Newton Marshall

DENVER (BASN) — I love a man who just does not know his place . . . . you may not dig this, but dig this; Jamaica, and you know I don’t mean Jamaica New York, I’m talking the land of Herb-us Ker-nubus trees, trees, as in oak or Sequoia . . .

Yeah, jerked beef and jet skis, mon.

27-year-old Newton Marshall prepared for sled-dog racing across the frozen Arctic tundra of Alaska – by harnessing wandering island dogs, pulling a sled . . . on wheels through the pot-hole filled streets, no, let’s go with paved roads of Jamaica.Today he stands ready, willing, capable and able to begin the assault through the grueling Iditarod race – across the Sasquatch territory of the 50th state.

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Mother nature, this time of the year . . . is a stark raving bitch, and Jack Frost never really leaves town when you’re this far North. To describe it as Nordic weather would not do this environment justice.

Not to mention, the human competition from a world-class field of 70 other Dog-men. They are Dog men right? The Iditarod started Saturday in Anchorage and will cover more than 1,100 miles, in sub-zero weather.

Any Jamaican who deliberately places himself in this frigid place, Ice Station Zebra . . . surely does not know his place, and is that not a beautiful thing? Audacity and defiance, the two characteristics I hope I passed on to my children – let no man tell you where to stand.

Of course Marshall’s story brings a grin to your face because it’s just so . . . contradictory, so conflicting and inconsistent with what the world is suppose to “know” about Black folks.

So odd, unique, flippin’ peculiar even. But consider these islanders have made a name for themselves in bobsleds, so apparently they, as a people – don’t understand their . . . “place” and I don’t strictly mean their geographical location – the middle of the Carri-bean Sea.

We all know the real story is; what in hell is this Black cat doing at the North Pole?

If Marshall is not single-handily shattering stereotypes then I don’t know who is. Believe me, I’m a skier, and I do occasionally encounter the Caucasian guy who is astounded he’s ran across a Colored skier . . . .

I recall folks taking a second and third look as my wife and I descended into the Grand Canyon, or when I was deep sea fishing off Catalina. I do enjoy blowing rednecks minds. The world is not their exclusive playground.

Years ago my son recalls a guy on the gondola talking to him and his buddy, informing them they were “pioneers” and my son, at twelve, not totally grasping the complexities of what branded him a pioneer, had to have pops break it down for him, the whole Carter G Woodson thing about a man knowing his place;

“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”

How such words apply to Black skiers and dog sledders . . . . What if they’d accepted the low-expectations of a White male controlled society – which clearly states; as a black person, be you in Jamaica or Jacksonville Florida, certain endeavors, particular interest and unique activities – are off-limits for you, and instead set aside for White guys?

Because these limitations apply to every fasit of life; from President of the US of A, to astronauts, engineers and rock climbers, if it’s not gladiator, entertainer or court gesture, then it’s not for Black guys.

And of course, the tragedy in all this . . . Black people have been beaten-down, to the point of acceptance of these supposed short-comings, far, far too many of us accept, endorse, some even embrace the low-expectations White society maintains for Blacks.

Empirically imposed limits and barriers for 400 years, self-enforced limitations for the last 40. We must break these chains.

In the minds of most of the planet, just the thought of dog sledding should be beyond the scope of Black people, outside of the box we’ve been stitched into. Fighting dogs, yeah, we all, each and everyone of us fight dogs . . . and eat hot dogs.

You bet, but race dogs across the ice, no, we’re suppose to have no inclination to venture out onto frozen lakes in Santa Clause’s little red ride.

First n’ foremost, as Black folks, we’re not suppose to have the intellectual curiosity to even flip the channel from BET or ESPN to even know Dog sled racing even exist.

So when Marshall steps on the frozen surface, people are blown away he even knew the sport existed, let-alone has the character to even attempt this Great White Hunter stunt.

“He works very, very hard at his craft,” says Chas St. George, spokesman for the Iditarod. “He ran the 2009 Yukon Quest, and as a rookie he finished that race. It’s a 1,000-mile race.

Many rookies who later on in their careers have run all kinds of races have failed to finish that particular race.”Marshall became the first Jamaican to finish the Yukon Quest, coming in 13th out of a field of 29 mushers.

Just as Canada had a number of Black Dudley Do-Rights on their bobsled teams – Lascelles Brown and Shelley-Ann Brown, the USA employed Vonetta Flowers, a housewife and mother of 2, and a Black lady who lent her track horned speed and explosion to the team, Germany had racing for them Black German Richard Adjeit , and of course Afro-American speed skater Shani Davis.

Some of us, thank god, just don’t know the place we’ve been pegged into. Believe it or not . . . . 40% of the “of color” athletes at this year’s Games went home with nine combined medals.

Thank you, Newton Marshall for contradicting long held miss-beliefs and half truths which this nation and much of the world are quick to accept as the burning bush truth.

Word is, Blacks can’t swim, can’t float, our behinds are too big – nonetheless Black swimmers have sunk that ole wives tale, as too, we can’t endure cold weather. Newton erases that myth, and he’s from Jamaica, not Cleveland, Green Bay or Buffalo; how tough must this kid be?!

I think the most impressive aspect of what Marshall is undertaking – is honestly, he’s prepared for the snow by practing and perfecting his craft on sandy beaches and Kingston streets. That would constitute, if not illustrate achieving against all odds.

What this man is attempting and accomplishing – he’s not suppose to be able to do. Training in 87 degrees weather to compete in 18 below zero conditions . . . that can only leave me to believe Marshall’s heart, determination, concentration and commitment must be at a level . . . much of the world’s citizens never believed a Black person could display.

Translation; Marshall has these good ole snowmen – eatin’ crow, Alaska Crow . . . and it’s real tough to swallow.