Friday, August 15, 2014

Not posting?  Didn't have the heart to in light of Ferguson ...

... another unarmed black youngster senselessly cut down, and just as he is about to begin life.

Today I met with a filmmaker at Lucretia Edwards little shoreline park to do a 45-minute interview that may (or may not) be edited into a full length documentary he is creating about Rosie the  Riveter -- for whom our park is named.

It seems that he had completed most of his work of a couple of years, but began to feel some discomfort -- having taken one of my bus tours in the recent past, and learned some alternative views on the conventional stories that ordinarily spill forth when Rosie is being researched.

I don't think that he was aware of what he was looking for today.  He'd driven up from Los Angeles -- calling ahead for an appointment -- but he came unscripted, I suppose hoping I would provide a lead so that some new angle might surface ... .

His first question had to do with the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, and just how did I feel about it?  It appeared to me to reveal a certain level of insensitivity, and I found myself going off on a tangent ... reluctant to share the pain of reopened wounds until I'd had a chance to worry myself through still another such tragedy.   This latest is only a few days old, and still raw; unprocessed. Having raised 3 sons in the previously all-white suburbs (prior to our arrival) with fear and trepidation over many years, the thing that comes up for me now are the lyrics of one of the earliest songs I ever wrote on the occasion of one of those sons, as a very small boy, being stoned as he rode home on his bike from Slo Sam's grocery store that lay at the crossroads of Saranap, the unincorporated rural area where we lived.  It happened not 500 feet from our home.  I kissed his forehead, wiped away his tears of small-boy outrage (tilting his face downward to avoid the unanswerable why in his eyes), and sent him off to some distraction before breaking into tears of utter helplessness that blurred with my cup of lukewarm tea:

Where is my brown-skinned heart to hurry?
Where will I find my song?
Why must my mind be just for worry:
To whom does my dream belong?

What are my hands to hold this morning?
Where is my place in the sun?
With what shall I fill these days of yearning?
Whose will shall be done?

The fruit of my labor will tumble in soon
in search of my love and my lead.
Gave all I had when they left this morning ...
Do they not know that little souls bleed?

Where is my brown-skinned heart to hurry?
To whom does my dream belong?
Why must my mind be just for worry?
Who will hear my song?
That song comes to the front of my mind each time another young black man is lost to the ignorance of the Times.  It's curious to note that -- what is expressed holds less bitterness than one might expect, but continuing sadness and that profound sense of helplessness.  I suspect that at some point and in some cases this is transformed into the rage that we're witnessing on the streets of Ferguson tonight.  Maybe, when enough of us reach that level of outrage across all of the lines of separation, change may begin to occur -- but at what cost?

...  and how long must we wait?

I came home to an email from PRI commentator, Farai Chideya, announcing that the interview that we did together some months ago was now up on the website.  I listened with an intensity borne of today's interview with filmmaker Ken Stewart -- and -- for just a moment there, wondered how I will feel tomorrow giving my hopeful message from the front of our little theater?

I loved her piece, and found myself lifted by being reminded of that evening in 1965 at Grace Cathedral listening to Duke Ellington's magnificent jazz mass and Come Sunday and closing my eyes and
imagining Bunny Briggs dancing across the nave like a  delicate black butterfly -- in that great marble edifice with its stately columns upthrusted to the heavens --  and was able to still the trauma for at least another day ...

... and remember, this was 1965 just months after Freedom Summer of '64, and in the throes of the Civil Rights revolution of the Sixties.  This memorable concert was central to the healing, and gave hope to the struggles that lay ahead -- and into the unknown Now.

"Lord, dear lord above, God Almighty, God of Love -- 
please look down and see my people through"
                                                (words from Come Sunday.")

The hopelessness lies dormant, again, at least 'til tomorrow ...

... wondering just how many more of our children must die violently at the hands of the ignorant before ....

Just don't know ... . 

Duke Ellington from A Concert of SACRED MUSIC at Graece Cathedral (1965)