There is nothing more constant in life than change. Since I last wrote you, I’ve lost two jobs; one from being fired, the other the business was liquidated. I’m doing my best to build my lesson studio, create new music, build new avenues for content to be consumed by those that need it the most, and learn more about me. Life isn’t easy. Bills, family, health, things can go wrong instantly. Nothing is certain and nothing is forever. Sometimes those words scare me. Music saved me. I used to laugh at that line before. It didn’t make sense to me. I never felt so desperate that I needed to be saved. I was looking at how “saved” can be interpreted. It saved me because it made me. I am myself, fully when I am singing, writing, educating about and with music. This is not all of me, but so much of me, that without it, I was lost. I needed to be saved from the world that everyone tells you should want. That wasn’t it for me. And music helped pave that way.
With that said, I had the opportunity this afternoon to sing at a Black History Month (yes a month late) at the Islamic Center of Long Island, which happens to be a 10 minute walk away from my home. I’m grateful for being in a town with so many different places of worship, and with so many different cultures calling Westbury home. Today, they were honoring a woman who I know and admire, Dr. Irene Betty Hylton. They also honored Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby-If you don’t know her look her up. A wonderful friend and mentor, Fred Brewington was the keynote speaker and asked if I could accompany his speech with a song. This was an event that felt like a Who’s Who of Black Westbury. But in that room, as each person spoke. I felt this overwhelming feeling of peace and purpose. A slide show played in the background. Watching Shirley Chisolm, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, all of these beautiful, intelligent, prolific women pass by on a screen made me scan the room. There were women in this room that were making Black history for their families, their communities, and their world. In a silence of my whole being, I wept, I prayed, I said Thank You to God, to my ancestors, to the universe, for placing such amazing Black women in my life. I spoke with someone the other night about being mixed, and how I like to identify myself. I told her I am a mixed race Black woman. I feel no need to qualify this statement. I am blessed to have seen all of these amazing Black women of all different shades and sizes growing up that colorism was not an issue for me. I understood my privilege, but I also understood the depth of the beauty of the Black woman both inside and out. I was reminded of that beauty when I was no longer constantly surrounded by it. I am determined to, in my life, surround myself with it. I am also determined to be like those women-myself. I realized that I know some of the mistakes that these women have made, and that does not tarnish my love for them. How can, then I think less of myself because of my mistakes if she is I?
Words; their importance and their strength were a large theme of todays celebration. I realized how important #sayhername is in that moment. Isn’t it frustrating, yet magnificent when we can become aware of something that affects us so deeply in an instant, in our own time? Think of people who you admire for one reason or another, you wouldn’t forget their name. Their name carries all that they are, because it is that name that we associate any story, memory, event, like or dislike. Our names are so important. Without them, we can be erased. Without them, we can be dehumanized. Without them we become abstract. With them, we are full, human, significant, and honored. When I say the name of someone I love, It’s as if it is a door to a memory bank of our shared experiences. This is such a beautiful thing, that the choice of not saying ones name, or changing ones name will be for me held with so much more significance than ever before.
This post seems all over the place, but know and understand that I’m so very grateful for my life, my gifts, my talents, my experiences, all of it. Life. I’m full and ready.