I'm about 4 months into my new life here in Minnesota, and I've started to feel something I didn't at all expect - a separation from the community I most proudly associate myself with.
Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of black folk here in the Twin Cities, and I've been lucky to make a few friends in those communities, but that doesn't mean the feeling of isolation isn't there. I feel like someone who hasn't spoken his mother tongue in a while. Someone who advocates for a community he doesn't engage. Someone whose "blackness" doesn't have a home.
To make up for this feeling of cultural isolation, I've been diving really deep into black media. The Breakfast Club out of New York City has become a daily watch for me, along with weekly podcasts, including Joe Budden's "State of the Culture" and Justin and Adrian's "For the Culture Podcast". Consuming this black media has led me to other things I've really enjoyed, namely, the HBO show, Insecure. It's funny how seeing people that look and think like you can make you feel more at home, and even safer!
So what does all of this mean? Why do I even bother mentioning it?
As I continue to dig into my proverbial pockets for my pass to the cookout, I've discovered something else really important - I want my work to cross over into blackness more often. Non-black people (especially those in classical music) need to understand that people of color - especially black people - have to share white spaces more often than not. It never works the other way around. When was the last time you found yourself in an environment that felt completely unattached to the culture you know and love?
I'm in the works (with the help of a colleague) of creating a Podcast of my own, that will explore the cross-sections of culture and classical music. I'm hoping that this form of media will connect me to other black folk like me, and vice versa. Allies are great, and I have plenty, but it would be nice to "kee-kee" with folks like my homies down in Memphis again.
Have you watched Insecure, by the way? It's a perfect look into black California - the California I remember very fondly from my days at USC. Check it out if you haven't!