2020 is one for the record books! Not only are we still under global pandemic of Covid-19, but America is under protest against police brutality and racism perpetrated against people of color. Far too long the majority of Americans have turned a blind eye and offered a deaf ear when it comes to hearing, learning or understanding the issues that plague the black community. Police brutality, prejudice and racism is nothing new to this country, however the mobilization of all faces and races standing up against these atrocities is new and welcomed. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have spilled into the streets, in both urban and suburban communities to stand in solidarity w the black community. Some say that racism is this country’s original sin. So these acts of empathy, consideration and compassion are long overdue and needed. Institutional racism and individual prejudices must be struck down for this nation to move forward and beyond the past.
Obviously I am a black/indigenous man, and I have been affected by racism and experienced its direct hate and ugliness. But it is has never defined me in my totality. I’m fortunate to have a solid foundation of intrinsic self worth. Im thankful that my heart is filled w love and not hate, my mind is filled with overstanding and awareness, and my purpose is filled with healing and ambition. This has allowed me to be comfortable to travel, share my craft and talk to thousands of various people all year long. You have no idea how good it feels to have a product that is universally adored from all types of people. I have been supported by the entire swatch of the human race. I also recognize that I find myself in some areas of the country that have very limited amount of pervasive black culture and/or I am the only link to that culture. I truly love when I get a chance to connect on a baseline level w a person who I know doesn’t often talk to black men. Or if they ever have. These people and conversations are just as important as the net sales at the end of the show.
I love to advocate on behalf of black culture and heritage. I also love to challenge a person’s scope of social awareness and sensitivity. Let me share a true story w you. I was showing at reggae festival that was in a rural white community here in the midwest. It was early during the festival and the gates just opened. An older white couple happened to stop by my booth. The wife was smitten by my creations, she loved them and she was fond of a turquoise bracelet i made. She wanted to try it on and I helped her do it, she loved it. Once it was on, she asked the price, and I told her it was (only) $45. She looked over at her husband, who like most men, was standing back away while she shopped. He walked up and decided he didn’t want to buy it. Her heart sank and I felt her disappointment because she and I knew that he was capable of making the purchase. I sensed that he felt bigoted towards me. So I took it upon myself to say to him while at this cultural festival, “when was the last time you put your hard earned money in a black mans’s hand to support their business ?”. He was taken back by that bold statement and they walked off. Disclaimer: I have never told anyone that, but i was moved to say this because of the nature of the event we were at. This “one love” thing is not just about superficial gawking at black entertainment, it reaches much further than that. It is an integration of finances, philosophies, employment, self-worth, diversity, and plenty more. He must have felt that, because they got about 30 steps away before they returned back to my booth and made the purchase. This gentleman went on to look me in the eye while shaking my hand and humbly told me ‘thank you’. He and I both knew why he was thanking me, he appreciated that my bold question forced him to think about his own life and to reconsider his previous thoughts and actions w me. To forward thru the notion of personal bias and actualize one love. And I commended him for being present in that moment of realization and showing integrity. Needless to say, it was a moment that i believe none of us will forget. I thanked the Most High for putting those words in my mouth for that moment of unity to take place. The funny thing is, I had to say the same thing two other times after that but at different festivals and guess what? The same result happened. LOL. Making the sales was nice and all , but to not be objectified and to force critical thinking in regards to interacial interactions was the true reward.
In all my travels, I have seen the good-will of all kinds of people. It shines so bright, that the notion of racism is actually silly, childish at best and simply out-dated. Wake up my people learn something new about different cultures so you will feel more comfortable around them. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what is right and speak out against what is wrong. Be generous with your manners and don’t be reluctant to share a good laugh with a complete stranger. We are all God’s children and we need each other to complete our individual selves and shine the glory on His/Her plan. I say Uhuru (swahili for freedom) to all people across the planet! Jah Rastafari!