(Music, Racism and What We Believe)
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"There is enough room for all things to be heard."
(The following is an ongoing conversation and seemed worth sharing ... my comments in the post below are marked P2 and are in Green and the other P1 and are in Orange. Just an FYI ... This is not being shared to make anyone look bad or to say that anyone is doing anything wrong ... it is only to open anyone interested up to the possibility that there are other ways, many ways of seeing something.)
P1: I learned so much about Nat King Cole, or Nathaniel Adams Coles. You included amazing photos which drew me into your project. It is incredible that Mr. Nat King Cole dropped out of school at 15 years old and became so successful, that is definitely a sign of different times. You won’t see that at all anymore.
We may have successful performers without a college education, but it would be difficult to find a successful one with no education above the age of 15. It says he became friends with many famous people like Fran Sinatra, I suspect that would not have been the case had he not already been a success when he met them?
P2: Well don't be to dang sure there :o)))) I am not that much older than you and I am not nearly as old as Nat ... however I dropped out of the 8th grade when I was 14 ... actually found out I was pregnant after a suicide attempt. Wasn't even old enough to drop out (the legal age is 16)...but since I was pregnant and they couldn't allow pregnant girls because of insurance reasons they moved me to a pregnancy school for 3 months and then I tested out of school with a GED. I was told I would never amount to anything (which actually is true...inside me there is nothing there but that is a spiritual discussion and this is about in the world stuff) I was told I wouldn't amount to anything in the world and that I should have an abortion and that I was ruining my life...and yet ... my son...ended up being what saved my life...pushed me forward and gave me the ability to discover things about myself that I didn't know. I didn't know how much love is possible in the world until having a child. Even at 15 I discovered a depth to love that one cannot describe but can know and which has expanded out to everyone.
I continued education...went to business school (which was really just a secretarial school) but I graduated in 9 months and was able to type and proofread and take dictation and got a job at a fortune 500 insurance company at the age of 19 and worked there for 7 years moving up to Human Resources and working for the Vice President of Benefits and Compensation. Gained many skills from that company and it opened a lot of future doors for me. The instrument, that saved my career (if one can call it that lol) has been typing...I am a good, fast typist and so that has pretty much what has kept me successful in this world, though there have been quite a few major set backs.
I grew up with a lot of people that share your beliefs...that said and say that things hold them back and hold them down and I grew up in an area where people tore their own town apart with racism...I have sat on my boyfriends porch while his mother screamed "get that white devil off my porch" and I have sat in restaurants while people sneered that a white girl would be with a black man and not even seeing this good, good man that I was with...I have had amazing men of all nationalities and colors enter my life (not just as boyfriends) and I could see that people couldn't see them...couldn't see what i saw about them...they only saw the color ... but that didn't hold either of us back in fact it made us in more sure in what we saw about one another. There is racism seemingly in every culture and yet we are all the same at the Core it is so strange to see the eyes of people.
Like right now I have no hair...I shaved my head yesterday. People treat me completely different when my head is shaved...some don't notice right away and smile at me and there is a connection and then they see my head and try to figure it out...does she have cancer so I get the sad sort of look and then when they realize I do not they give me the weirdo kind of look. We judge so much on appearance...I am not my hair. In fact, I look more like everyone else does without it. We get so attached to our beliefs about how things are and what they mean...our looks supposedly show people who we are ... but they don't ... they can't … they are like costumes we put on to show what our interests are...but we are not our interests.
You always give me so much to look at. I hadn't thought of many of these things that are now running through the mind...very good memories of people I haven't seen or heard from in years. We touch each others lives...just like you have mine, I now am interested again in seeing an opera and this class has sparked things in me just like this writing above. I am so glad I am getting an education now. I wouldn't have appreciated it as much if I had gone in my 20s ... I get to really take it in after having all this life experience and I don't see this education as literal I see it as a way to share...everyone gets to share what they experience and learn.
P1: Mr. Cole was assaulted by a white man during a mixed race performance; I am not sure how anyone could question how race was a major obstacle, sometimes lethal, for non-whites.
P2: Life is lethal :o) We are all going to die. If you realize that then nothing can hold you back. If you begin to question ... silently to yourself... who dies? Like when you die...then what...who were you before you were born? Will you be that when you die? Who is looking out of your eyes? Life has always (look at history) been full of obstacles...it's is a literal obstacles course LOL! That is the fun...to see if you go through the obstacles or if you use them to hold you down...or rise you up...it doesn't even matter which one you do ... everyone gets to play how they play. If you want things to seemingly hold you down they will show up everywhere and if you expect things to rise you up then they show up everywhere and everything in between.
P1: Although he became a success, that does not mean he had the same opportunities as his white counterparts and it doesn’t mean he did not struggle.
P2: Yet he is more well-known than most white male singers. :o)))
P1: I would agree with his critics regarding the comment he made “I am an entertainer, not an activist”, to me, that reaction is similar to the abusive wife who won’t stand up to her husband by saying something like “I am a wife first, not a feminist”.
P2: Though there is another way to see this...that he was unwilling to add to the problem of the time...fighting is not the answer to everything, sometimes we stand back and do not add fuel to the flame ... that is what I see in him ... he is clearly saying ... there is no problem here stop making one. He already saw everyone as being the Same ... not same in talent or in colors or in gender ... just simply the Same. Activism is just war. We have enough war ... put down the fight and see the problem as solved ... already...without proof. And if people come to you and say there are problems everywhere. Have them stop ... right now just stop ... is the problem only that you are saying their is. Without proof can you just stop and look around you right now...right this moment and see there is no problem, until you say there is. :o))))) This is the gift of a simple life. No wars, nothing to fight about, just honest looking and seeing that all is truly well and if there is a problem for you to solve you will solve it. But you don't have to go looking for problems :o)
P1: Had I been alive in his day, I would have been angry with his response and would have no longer been a fan.
P2: Then you are just creating problems instead of enjoying what he had to offer...which is music. That is his gift...and you would have missed out on an incredibly amazing man because you would rather have a fight than music?
P1: We each have an individual responsibility to fight for the people coming up behind us, to make it a better world, even if that means sacrificing.
P2: Or you can not fight and just share who you are with whoever shows up. You don't have to fight to help people up you just put your hand out. You don't have to sacrifice anything ... you just give what you can when it comes up to do that.
P1: Obviously, his loyalty to the business came first. Let’s face it; this is how one becomes a commodity, albeit a well-paid one. We continue to see this now, at an even larger scale.
P2: I don't see this...I see someone that in the face of everyone screaming "do something" he calmly said...we are all the Same at the Core and I am here because I have something to offer people musically. Not because I am black or because I am a man, but because I can play for those that would like to hear it.
P1: It is fascinating that the white community considered him as an “undesirable” when he tried to move into a white neighborhood.
P2: I have also been an "undesirable" in black neighborhoods. I've been to dance clubs where I was one of maybe only 2 or 3 white girls and let me tell you...I didn't feel all that comfortable or welcomed...but I went and I danced and I knew I was not any different than them and the more they spent time with me ... the less "white" I was/am.
P1: I would have liked to have seen what they would have considered a white “undesirable” moving in.
P2: I've seen this too...I owned a home once in HOA...they don't have them here in the Valley that I am aware of but it is a housing association and I would go to the meetings and it would be crazy cause they had so many rules on what you can and can't do that you don't feel like you own your home at all...more like you are paying over priced rent for some land with your structure on it and it was like mini-wars all the time one time I went to battle for some homeless kids that were hanging out in the park and I swear I thought I might be hanged...no one wanted a homeless person...no one but me lol and I am not saying that I had the answer of what to do with him...but to just make him leave didn't seem like the answer...I ended up selling and leaving...it felt like a mini-prison there and my neighbors were not exactly thrilled with me...cause I had bought a house with two of my room-mates that had let me and my two boys live with them after my significant other of 9 years had died in a motorcycle accident and so they were his good friends and let me stay with them so when I bought this house I bought it with them in mind and got a 4 bedroom home that we added another bedroom to so that we could all fit in it and so one of my roommates had a son and he would stay on the weekends and then there were my two boys and then my other roommate so it was 2 grown men and 3 children and one woman and one of my roommates (at the time) is black and we lived this way for 3 years before I sold the house and moved up here so I imagine there was a bit of conflict in the community with the way we lived but they helped me through one of the most horrible times of my life...having the support of these two people and maybe people talked because it was an odd way to live in the world...but I didn't see them as men...they were my band of brothers...I felt more like a brother than a woman that lived with two men. So I have always given people plenty of reasons to judge me and they have many times but I know they don't know ... that they are just making up stories...just like you are above about Nat ... you don't know what it is like so go live what it is like and then comment. I speak from what I have lived. Go have experiences ... be ripe with them! Don't care what people think they will always think whatever they do ... be clear in yourself about how your life is lived and then no one can tear you down. Just check in with yourself and if you are ok with how things are...then there are no problems no matter what anyone else says.
P1: Again, in regards to race, most white people have never had to live with burning crosses on their lawn or their dog shot at simply for being white.
P2: Most people of color have not had that experience either. We used to burn people of all colors at the stake and put people of all colors on crosses. I've had all four tires on my jeep slashed by haters ... it doesn't matter why someone chooses to hate there are all kinds of reasons...just stop hating. :o)
P1: There are incidences of black on white crime, absolutely, but if one looks deeper, it is human nature to react when one is oppressed and marginalized as a race of people.
P2: It would be so cool to see you go into an area that is oppressed or marginalized and begin to change things...not by being an activist but by just revealing to people that they don't see themselves as they really are. Go and be one of the few that doesn't see them oppressed by their living situation...only about their beliefs about their living situation. Grow a garden on the roof top of a school or teach a kid to read or do foster care...you can sign up for that in Yreka...make it a goal to eventually have a foster child in your home that doesn't have to have the life you are saying is out there for it to grow up in and believe is true.
P1: “no one wanted to sponsor a show featuring African American entertainers”, consider how many amazing entertainers were would have lost out on enjoying if this attitude continued to present day. There is no possible way to deny that racism was a major battle for black performers, and continues to be on some levels. I had no idea that Mr. Cole played in movies, I’ll have to find them to watch.
P2: I am very glad you are looking into Nat and maybe pay attention to his daughter also because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and I think you will help to be moved away from this idea you have of how horrible it is to be black. I know many great black people that are held down by nothing...I lived with one for years ... he is a Staff Sargeant in the Military and when I met him he was just a private and I have watched him grow into a man now that has 50 men under him that he helps rise up.
P1: Unfortunately, Mr. Cole dies of lung cancer, a deadly corporate product marketed to the ignorance of that time and that so many have fallen victim to, including many of my relatives. I appreciate that we can continue to enjoy his talent via media outlets and projects like yours, thank you.
P2: My posts to you are always so long but I am smiling...I enjoy writing them. I hope that you read this just as another way of seeing things...doesn't mean it is the right way...just another way :o)
~Joysters (Legally now ... yesterday the courts officially changed my name to Joy Sters :o)
“The greatest barrier to discovery is not ignorance … it is the illusion of knowledge.”