For me, my daily life has been put into perspective. It has placed the importance of health (of all sorts) back into focus because without the most basic needs any human has you don’t have much else. This can be said for the racial unrest that is sweeping the country (and world now) as well. The issues that some people thought were over are being brought to light. That makes for uncomfortable times. We need to sit in the discomfort of the racial inequity in order for us to actually do something about it.
My thoughts are all over the place. I’m grateful that my family is safe. I’m also grateful that my mother stressed that, as a black man, I needed to graduate from college. I look at people not wearing masks and claiming things not based in fact or science and thank my mother for making sure I learned how to read and comprehend. I also think about how quickly it is possible to destroy a democracy and rights that thousands of people have lost their lives fighting for. Again, these are rights that Black people have fought for and STILL have been denied (the ultimate irony).
I don’t think I ever met George Floyd. We grew up in the same neighborhood in Houston,Tx. He went to the elementary school that my sister went to and even attended the high school that both my parents graduated from. To me, our lives could have been identical. I’m sure he and his family wanted what every Black child and family wants when growing up in 3rd Ward…to represent your family, community, and yourself in a positive light. My mother was able to find a way for me to attend the virtually all White public school on the other side of town in hopes of achieving that goal. From there I had band classes and learned how to play the saxophone. Just that act probably changed the trajectories of our lives.
That’s a very humbling feeling. It’s also a feeling that so many White people can’t conceive…that there are great, smart, and talented people in the communities and for centuries we’ve stacked the system (see redlining) so there’s no way out. This is why it continues to be this country’s original and unchanged sin.
I’ve actually been listening to A LOT more music now. That’s almost sad for me to say as a musician but I mean REALLY listen to music. John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Wayne Shorter are my comfort foods. I’ve also forced myself to write more music during this time as well. I’m about halfway through a big band arrangement of “Lift Every Voice” that I hope will be performed once of these days. I’ve been able to be productive musically in some aspects. These events haven’t really changed how I work on music because I think my music always comes from a grounded, sincere place. I hope it changes those that don’t write from that same place though!!!