In 2006, the first video I remember seeing online was "Afro Ninja." An athletic black man with an afro glares into the camera with the confidence of 10 Kanye Wests. He gives a sneer and attempts a backflip that ends in a face plant of epic proportions. What got me was he tried to get up and finish a routine that I'm sure he's practiced several times. He spins his nunchucks but eventually falls off screen and into my brain's archive of laugh out loud. Oh, the joy of technology!
As time has progressed, we've seen more content uploaded to the Internet every day. Along with the funny, we've also seen some of the darker side of humanity archived on the Internet. But it was a few weeks ago that I received a very disturbing one. A friend sends me a link along with a text that said "Not Again." It was the video of the death of Alton Sterling. My heart sank. I told my wife that I needed to go to the studio. She knows that's my safe place. I just intended on messing around on the keyboard but 3 hours later, the song "FREE" was mastered and on Soundcloud.
Who knew that in the next days we'd see the death of Philando Castille, the death of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and international terror.
I don't want to take this time to unpack the complexities of racial biases in America. I wrote about that in a blog called "The Case for Love." following the death of Mike Brown. But what is apparent is that there is a real problem. Our United States are not "United" but untied. We must accept that. Accepting that there is a real problem is the first step in finding a solution. It's not a black problem. It's not a white problem. It's an American problem. We don’t need sensationalized politicians using these problems as a platform to gain power. We need real reform, real solutions and it starts with ALL of us.
I wanted to bring that idea to life in the music video for my song "FREE." I think our country has been sleep. We've been too preoccupied with ourselves to be "United." Right now emotions are high and everyone wants change.
What do we do?
To be honest, I don't know. These issues are so complex and deep rooted that I dare not arrogantly boast that I have the answer. I do know this: Clearly, the answer isn't vigilante justice. We have a justice system for a reason and if individuals begin to become our own judge, jury, and executioners then chaos ensues. I know the answer isn't silence. Many have said, for the sake of unity, I should be quiet. There are big problems with that statement. For starters, We aren't unified. Just look around and you'll see that as a truth. Silence only affirms a false sense of everything being ok, simply because those that are hurt aren't being heard. That allows their fear, pain, and oppression to not inconvenience us. We must know the answer isn't ignoring the problem. You don't ignore cancer. Although, you may not see the effects of it right away, it will kill you if not removed from the source. What we are seeing is cancer ignored and buried away in hopes that it will heal itself. It won't.
We have a diverse country with scores of differences. We have so many cultures that have added so much to our great nation. We don't agree on everything but we must find common ground and begin real dialogue at the federal, state, and human level. After dialogue, we need action at the federal, state, and human level. We don't have all the answers but if there's going to be change, I'm convinced we have to find it TOGETHER.
Download "Free" on Soundcloud here.
Listen on Apple Music here.