I had a very challenging week this week. There are some experiences that really demand you evolve into a higher functioning being. And once again, relationship heartbreak has become the most sobering and epiphany baring experience. I had a weekend gig in Costa Rica, flying in Friday afternoon, performing Saturday night, traveling back today Sunday. I treated myself to things I rarely do on these trips. I had a massage on the beach and bought myself a t-shirt. Even though it’s the end of the dry season, it’s a beautiful place. Even though someone may have stolen a hundred dollar bill out of my wallet, possibly a hotel employee, I let it go, because I believe in karma, and that during this week of extreme emotional challenges, I stay steadfast in my conviction of my purpose. I have work to do. And I’m going to do it while riding the edge of my fears and penetrating as much of life as I can, absorbing all of the pleasure and pain.
Treading water with all my might
Watching it rise above my sight.
How many ships’ll pass in the night
Til I take one into the light?
The expectation of heaven
The disappointment of hell
Instead of sharing my life with another to tell
Class hatred was not going to solve my problem. Simply accusing silly dancing rich white guys for sustaining the stereotypes that kept me down, and having racist tendencies and soulful shallowness, would at best just make them defensive and self-conscious. It took almost forty years to realize I had to get better at making friends instead of alienating people and turning them off with my judgmental anger. This applied to general coalition building and to becoming less miserable and lonely in my own life. I just had to reconcile the rebellious, wanting to special, side of me with the practical inclusive loving side. The rebellious side fantasized about being part of an apocalyptic rebellion at these parties, leading a violent charging tidal wave of differently oppressed peoples over the golf green, raiding all country clubs and cocktail hour, eventually forcing them to yield to my artistic angst and transfer more of their wealth to me. The loving side wanted to show them the power they could feel and express if they gave themselves a chance.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Saturday Night Live aired a sketch last night that has been making the typical viral rounds in social media. It was a trailer for a fake movie titled “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black”. I woke up today to friends both black and white posting the sketch on Facebook so I felt it was worth a look. While I was not surprised with what I saw, I was increasingly frustrated with how so many of my peers of all colors regarded it as “brilliant”, as if saying “Hallelujah! SNL swooped in just in time to give us a vitriolic, collective laugh.” And while I understand how so many of my friends of color think it’s a funny and poignant skit, I’m baffled by what exactly so many of my white peers are laughing at.
How many SNL like skits featuring stupid unaware “privileged” white people shocked about something “black” do we need to see before the joke gets old? Or before we have honest and completely thorough conversations about what colors, having color or lack thereof symbolize in this country? This is yet another “comedy” skit exclaiming that white people are the only ones who unwittingly initiate and sustain the concept of “race” and its implicit hierarchies. Do we laugh because we believe that is true or because others believe it’s true? The canned laughter always confuses me.
It is hard for me to believe that anyone part of generations x, y, or z do not relate or are deeply aware of what it means to be “black” simply for the reason it has been so mainstreamed, co-opted, appropriated and pick-your-semantic into the fashionably rebellious American identity. Personally I am past sick of comedy skits like these that insult a good number of white people’s intelligence. Beyoncé referencing black panthers and #blacklivesmatter in her Super Bowl and latest music video performances? Cool, fight the power! We get it. We want to fight it too. And most of us are well aware of our historic cultural appropriation. The real comedy would have been after the SNL skit aired, watching a white family explaining to their kids why it was so funny. Now THAT would have been something cutting edge and “brilliant”. They’re not even ready for when I drop my book later this year, “Uncle Tim’s Condo: what silly dancing white men represent in America” (drops mic)