While I regularly engage with news and debates from around the globe making my opinions, I don’t consider myself very good at writing about them. I feel more comfortable discussing and debating politics in more intimate settings. Having said that, the disturbing surge in right-wing movements and their political figures that we have experienced on a global level over the last few years, has made me come more out of my shell.
I experienced on close hand the lead up and immediate aftermath of Brexit, which was an ugly display of lies, fear mongering and racist slur from certain British politicians. When the referendum saw the UK reject the unity of the Europe Union and its citizen while proclaiming foreigners were not welcome, it wasn’t hard to imagine where things were heading across the Atlantic Ocean in the USA.
I don’t really want to write about narcissistic, misogynistic and racist individuals here, and the events that have unfolded over the last many weeks in the lead up and after the killing of George Floyd goes much deeper than the current disastrous president. It stretches beyond the borders of the United States, and we must all look in the mirror and ask ourselves, what we can do to ensure that we live in a world where the colour of your skin does not determine your destiny in life.
I wrote a paper on ‘Free Jazz’ back in 2000, in my early attempts at academia, a career path which was put on hold fairly quickly on due to performing, only to be revitalised within the last 2-3 years as I am doing practice led research. Anyway, this particular paper had a substantial chapter on the black freedom movement in the 60s. When writing it up I remember thinking that it really seemed ludicrous that a first world country, leading in so many aspects of shaping world culture, economy and politics, were still battling the concept of racism.
I was young and naive. Racism unfortunately still prevails, and looking at the States, somehow it hasn’t changed. Except maybe this time there is a new push towards change from within the system. I saw a t-shirt worn by a cool elderly lady spelling: “Racism is emotional…” Agreed, it certainly isn’t rational.
It is not my style to shout loud on Twitter or Facebook, but I support the Black Lives Matter movement wholeheartedly. As a parent I use energy to raise my kids with an openminded and tolerant view of racial equality, and I engage with my community in such a way too. As an artist I play jazz! To me jazz (for lack of a better term) is the number one truly unique artistic and cultural contributions to the world by the USA, and it was created distinctly in the AfroAmerican community.
As I said, as I white person, I like everyone else need to take a look in mirror and ask the question, what can I do to achieve true racial equality in this world today? Now! However; at least I know in my heart, every day I am honouring a tradition that came from black people’s communities. Every time I pick up my axe, I am honouring and showing my respect and gratitude to Louis, Bird, Miles, Coltrane, Wes, Christian, Dizzy, Powell, Monk, Roach, Ella, Mingus, Ornette, Herbie, Wayne, Blakey, Golson, Rollins, Cannonball, Holiday, Benson, Green, Haynes, Young, Waller, Tyner, Elvin, Hank, Henderson, Garland, Mobley, Kelly, Hubbard, Ibrahim, Ellington and Basie to just name a few.
I am 99.99 percent sure that if you’re here, reading this, being potentially a jazz listener, I don’t need to convince you that we need to support Black Lives Matter. But it’s good to remind ourselves that the legends of this music had to endure unspeakable racial inequality, and yet they kept moving and created a legacy that sits so deep in so much music of the day, and of course is the bedrock of ALL jazz today. And I am forever grateful for that…
Black Lives Matter…
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