I've really been struggling lately about how to address some race issues I've been seeing in the past few weeks. It's a difficult subject for me because I understand the role people have had in my life who happen to be white. I also understand the role non-black people have played in Civil Rights. I know that my teachers, my friends, and my partner are not like the people I see walking down the street flying their rebel flags and even wearing their Klan robes, but how far have we come? I fully acknowledge that there has been a lot of progress in the past decades, but I'm slowly admitting to myself that we've got "a longer row to plow" than I've allowed myself to believe in the past.
If you watched the Super Bowl this year, you remember the multilingual Coca-Cola commercial that showcased the song "America the Beautiful", and the backlash it received. There were tweets from people who even went as far to say that "Mexicans, terrorists, Jews, and niggers are NOT American". At an LGBT conference in Kansas City last week, my good friend Dakota was denied entrance into a gay bar, and told to "go back where you belong". When displaying frustrations about a pay situation at a gig not too long ago, I was very clearly told to shut up and "be thankful for what WE are doing for [people like] you" in the classical music industry.
I give these examples only to help you understand what has been going on in my mind, and why I feel the way I feel today. I by no means intend to display any words that may allude to the white man being the devil, but you have to realize that it's difficult for me to ignore being denied entrance at a gig upon suspicion of my not belonging backstage (with instrument in hand), a watchful eye being kept on me at music stores in cities I don't frequent, or it even being suggested to me that it's trite and cliché for spirituals or the Negro National Anthem to be programmed on February concerts. Obviously none of YOU feel this way or would do those things to me, but I'm starting to ask myself are "good people" in the minority? Do most people of non-color still hold the sentiments of the 50s and 60s? Should black people like myself begin to doubt the level of progress I've always known to be true?
We all need to speak up and take a more forward stance on discrimination against minorities, women, gays, and anyone else who has felt the brunt of institutionalized hate. It's time to call out people who "don't date 'x' race" and stop attributing it to personal preference. We need to stop blowing off the phrase "They're doing it because I'm (blank)" because it's more than obvious that the feelings are there. We have to stop being silent about our experiences and try to make real change everyday, because society at large is not going to do it for us.