“I was very fortunate to have learned the transforming power of music early in life. As an adult I want to share that power by inspiring people to care about their neighbors near and far.” – India Arie
This past Friday night was amazing and that’s because any night you meet India Arie is an awesome night! Yes, you read correctly – MS. INDIA ARIE! In honor of Black History Month, Berklee College of Music put on their “2017 MLK Celebration: Mobilize, Educate, Elevate” featuring a number of people, including Ms. Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot as the keynote speaker, and Ms. India Arie as the main performer. It was truly dope and I have to say that this event could not have come at a better time! I’ve been finding myself feeling numb, for lack of better words, with the nations recent current events. It’s almost as if my coping mechanism with the world right now has been to disengage and focus on anything but with what has been going on in the world at large. It is how I managed to get through this whole election without having a breakdown. It’s why I was able to wake up on November 8th, the day after my birthday, and not even blink when I heard Donald Trump was elected. I don’t watch much television, and rarely watch the news. I mostly find things out on the radio (NPR) or through social media but for the most part, I’ve been checked out, disengaged and definitely uninspired.
Now, this past week, I saw a post on Facebook that had me in my feelings – the point of the post was to point out that there was not a difference between Muslims and Christians in the fact that they both want and deserve to practice their faiths without the thought of religious persecution. Although this was the writer’s point (and I understood and agreed with it), there was also another little line in the post that made it clear that this post was addressed to all the “so-called Christians.” And judging by the number of likes and comments on the post, it appeared a lot of people felt the same way as the writer. I read and perceived a lot of loaded assumptions and opinions on many sides, and I took it upon myself to comment that I was offended without bothering to explain why. This led to further comments by various people assuming and commenting to what they thought I was alluding to. I was offended because as someone who openly identifies as a Christian and someone who truly goes out of my way to treat people the way I want to be treated, I was being lumped in with a group of people perceived to be the perpetrators of this “Muslim ban” and I was not having that. I jumped into the conversation to clear up what I meant, but all it did was stir people up even more. In hindsight, I honestly should have kept scrolling. My posting underneath the status did nothing to bring understanding, peace or unity among the commenters. And although, social media is a great way to influence and engage people in the same respects it can be equally as divisive. It’s days later and I still feel awful about it – however, I suppose I needed the lesson; that lesson being, if by me commenting or engaging on social media when it comes to social justice does not lend to me uplifting and encouraging others or bringing about understanding amongst people, I need not have any parts of it.
Anywho, it’s Friday night and I’m at Berklee College of Music and Ms. Arie is on stage doing what she does best. She began her performance mnce with her song called “One” from her album Songversation. She had a short set but she spent a lot of time sharing and encouraging the crowd. Some things she shared with us that she learned along her journey: 1) there’s nothing wrong with her (us), 2) you are responsible for yourself (happiness), and 3) live your authentic truth. Throughout the event, we were reminded of the significance music (and really the arts) had and continues to have in influencing and impacting people and movements in times of social injustice and unrest. And as Ms. Arie sung to the crowd and the crowd sung back to her, I really got to thinking – we really are one. Although a simple realization, it was so profound! All the hype in the media has had us to focus so much on our differences that we have forgotten to acknowledge the one undeniable truth – we are all human; and essentially, we all want the same things – freedom, peace, love and prosperity. Am I right? And on a more personal note, Ms. Arie reminded me that as a creative and someone who has essentially created her own platform, I play a role as well. I have the power to influence others! You, too, have the power to influence others! But essentially, what are we doing with it? And if we are taking advantage of this power we have, are we doing so correctly? How about effectively? After someone has encountered me, can they say that they are better off having met me? What will my legacy by? What will your legacy be? These are questions that I am sitting here pondering as I write this. I don’t have it all figured out, but it’s a step in the right direction. I am so thankful that I ventured out last Friday night and that I had an encounter with Ms. Arie. I can truly say that my encounter with her was a much needed redirect – THANK YOU!
*Check out my Instagram HERE for videos and photos from the event!*
*Oh, and I was serious when I said I met her! After the show, I decided she has to leave out of this building somewhere, so I walked around back. I surmised where I saw a black truck and a handful of people waiting is where Ms. Arie would exit from. I was right! She came out about 20 minutes later in all her beautiful glory. Now, she doesn’t take pictures with people but I managed to get a blurry one (my phone died immediately after)…can you say fail! But she was full of encouragement, hugs, and autographs. It was truly a blessing!”
And because Berklee is dope like that, here are some more upcoming performances in the next few weeks that may be of interest to you:
Wednesday, February 8th – Black Lives Matter: Sankofa
Wednesday, February 22nd – West Side Story
Thursday, March 2nd – Beyoncé’s Original All Female Band: A 10 year Anniversary Concert
Thursday, March 9th – Africana Studies Presents: Black Music Matters
Friday, March 31st – The Berklee Global Jazz Institute 2017
Tuesday, April 11th – Latin American Vive Music Festival