“You can't help it. An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times...How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?"
~ Nina Simone
The image above is not of Ms. Simone, but of Civil Rights Activist Myrlie Evers at her husband Medgar Evers funeral after his assassination by the KKK in 1963, however Nina's words ring as true today as they did in the era in which she said them. I usually try to keep it light, but events as of late have touched my heart more than ever...and whatever touches my heart, usually makes its way to my pen.
This remix to Jay-Z's "Song Cry" tells two tearful stories - one from a relationship, the other more closely related to today's headlines. I've considered writing about the latter in the past, but it just wasn't there yet. When Philando Castile was killed while complying in Minnesota - with his child in the back seat - I shed tears. I had to have a conversation with my sons that night. Their innocent responses like "should I show them what's in my pockets so they know I don't have a gun?" scared me. While so logical, I had to teach them how dangerous a move that could be. I was horrified watching Terrence Crutcher get shot with his hands up in Oklahoma, while looking to police for help when his vehicle broke down. Then Keith Scott being shot in Charlotte while waiting for his child to come back from school.....
Nina's words resonated with me. As an artist, it is my duty to make art that reflects the times.
It is truly a trying time in our country. Rather than invoke anger, hate, or increased disdain, I pray that art like this inspires more conversations that allow us to get past the innate egocentricity that fuels intolerance to our differences and catalyzes violent acts. That one day the reflex will be to operate out of love and a thirst for understanding of differences rather than out of fear and ego.