‘If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.’ – Jimi Hendrix
I recently met a black supremacist. Well, I probably meet them more often than I realize, but the topic is never discussed. This particular young man and I connected at a musical event — it was our mutual love for the craft that brought us together. I didn’t know he was a black supremacist until after we got to know each other through several conversations, when finally it all poured out in an angry speech of defiance against the institutions which have subjugated his people. He referred to me as a member of a “people” who are all inherently racist, and comfortable with the systemic racism in our country and our world because it upholds our high standard of privileged living. As the anger within him unleashed upon me, his eyes grew wide and he stood up, ranting for perhaps forty five minutes. I wouldn’t have been able to get a word in even if I wanted to — but I didn’t. I only wanted to listen and to respectfully receive his message, my body absorbing the impact of his rage.
He expressed that he does not believe in equality, that one race must rule over the other, and that it is his intention to fight for his people to reign supreme over “mine” — to turn the tables, to settle the score. When he reached the climax of his monologue, I allowed the energy to suspend and ground within me. I collected myself, and then calmly expressed my thoughts and feelings. When he realized that I was not stupid nor afraid, that I was willing to be open, and that I understood but that I also had ideas founded in a different set of beliefs and paradigms that he does, he was able to respect me. He asked questions. He listened. As I spoke I felt his energy relax, and he entered a state of humility and serenity only possible through respectful dialogue — even over such a tense and deeply painful issue. At the conclusion, we embraced each other.
It was then that we were able to get back to the music. We discussed musical collaborations, we spoke about the songs we could write together to express this unity. We talked about our favorite music, and it turns out we share a lot of the same heroes: Andre 3000, J Dilla, MF Doom, Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole … he played me his songs and I shared mine as well. He taught me some riffs and some hooks that he had written. In the end we were able to see eye to eye, even though at first he believed that was impossible because he is black and I am white.
It’s easy to see the differences in people, and it is difficult to break out of the dogmas and indoctrinations that have been forced upon our consciousness through generations of trauma. The conversation we had was critical, and although he came into our meeting believing that racial equality is not possible, we were able to connect on a deeper level of the pure humanity which is our true bond. Music brought us together and music sealed the deal. I look forward to our collaboration because it will hold the energy of our revolutionary revelations, and influence the listeners to consider another perspective as well. I believe that we can all expand our minds and hearts past our pain and towards the future of human unity — as long as we believe it is possible.
Painting By Mirta Toledo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]