Late last year when things seemed pretty financially and emotionally hopeless for me, I set a goal; purchase my own piano when I paid off some debt. As I searched for the most budget friendly digital piano it dawned on me that I didn’t just want it to collect dust in the corner. I needed something to work towards, something truly meaningful to me. And that my friends was learning to play Jazz. The soul of the music, the delight I feel when it dips into minor tones and comes back again and the way it just sounds so effortless taking my mind on the most wondrous journeys. It truly is a genre with endless versatility: at one moment fuelling my creative soul, and at another calming my breathing so I can get the deepest possible stretches, then of course there are the songs that linger for days on end touching on emotions I hardly knew were there.
Jazz has been a part of my life pretty much from the moment I turned 18 onwards, when I bought my first Ella Fitzgerald CD and began researching her career and musical evolution. The obstacles she had to overcome just to share her gift was so beyond anything I could comprehend. I grew up in Canada, as a white girl, being told that I could do anything I put my mind to. And here was this woman, with more musical talent than I have in my whole being getting shut out of club, after club simply because of the colour of her skin. Being an 18 year old, idealist surrounded by people of all races, I thought proudly to myself, look how far we have come! Look at how equality has been achieved!
I believed this right up until my half Jamaican niece was born nearly a decade later, and I saw firsthand something shocking, racism in my own backyard. Family members were worried that this little girl was going to have a tough time growing up due to the colour of her skin. They were concerned that life would be so much tougher for her, than for the rest of us. I fought this mentality, and debated with them, that it was their close-minded views projected on her, and that she would be absolutely fine. That this birth was amazing, and she would be given the exact same opportunities as everyone else. I even had heated debates saying that we as a society no longer see colour. I was so naïve.
A few years after her birth, my cousin called me in a fit of rage, because she took her little girl to the public pool, and a lady asked her where she got her baby. Listening to her experience, I felt the most helpless pain. Then there was an incident a short time later, where a woman threatened to call the police on this amazing mother for apparently kidnapping a child that couldn’t possible be hers. I was horrified. Was this simply a small-town mindset or was something deeper going on? Again, I put these thoughts on the back burner, and proclaimed how proud I was that I didn’t see race. That I could look beyond everything and love this little girl with all my heart and soul.
Over the last few weeks, I have questioned this very painful thought, and am making progress to break away from it. I thought not seeing race was the ultimate goal, but my mind is changing. I don’t want to “not see race”. I am coming to the conclusion that we actually need to celebrate other races, and cultures and include all of these unique attributes into our society with open and loving arms. Embracing the diversity, and finding a way to integrate it as a complex system, rather than striving for us all to one day be the same colour (which I always in my head hoped would magically be purple). And that is when I got an idea, music is one of the most meaningful ways that I have learned about diversity, and the experiences of other people. Why? Because music brings people together. It is an expression beyond words, it is something you feel, and it is something I feel very deeply.
Personally I have a lot of work to do with breaking free of some of the naïve ideals I thought were important, and if you are willing, I will be sharing my journey every few posts. I do not feel that change will happen over night. I see racisms I didn’t even know existed and I want to do as much listening, and amplifying of amazing voices that I can, while at the same time staying true to myself and bringing positivity into the world. Uniting Jazz, into my sex positive blog is the best way I know how to do that. I hope you enjoy listening to the incredible music I am exploring, with my personal focus being artists who are black, and culturally diverse. And let us not forget, that once we are all free to be non-monogamous sexual beings again, that music plays an intrinsic role in sex, and just setting an atmosphere, which when the time is right we will explore together too.
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