I can’t seem to leave Rosewood behind. Last week I goofed, made a mistake, should have, and did know better. But perhaps I needed to revisit Rosewood once again.
In last week’s Havok, my essay mentioned a courageous saxophone duet performed by Ogni Suono (It. Every Sound). I didn’t credit the composer, Shelley Washington. I apologize. The music and the program notes were raw and the subject matter was not an easy one. She wrote: “The piece, the poetry, and the visual components are all linked to send a very clear and targeted message: stop perpetuating rape culture by any and every means necessary.” I did find a YouTube performance of the piece. I also discovered that Ms. Washington has written other chamber music and is an accomplished musician. All worth further exploration.
A good lesson. I learned from my mistake. And as a bonus, I listened to several of her compositions. Wow. And then I found her recording about the persistent struggles of a minority person in academia (and elsewhere I may add). It too is worth hearing. You can hear her brief remarks. Ms. Washington has hope and suggests that victims shouldn’t have to speak up all the time for themselves. If you see a wrong, speak up for the injured; let them know that they are not alone in the struggle.
Rosewood was an eruption of hate and prejudice and those conditions still exist. Big mistakes, little mistakes, and always lots of excuses. Been told before, mistakes are a learning opportunity.
Learning is a struggle – safer to keep with the same old, same old. Prejudices die hard. And unfortunately, we continue to see and hear things that reinforce prejudices and objectify whole peoples and genders. So many that we’ve become inured to the message and if aware at all, most likely shrug our shoulders and move on.
Sign out from your email account and you’ll liable to find a page of dubious articles and a sidebar of equally questionable ads: the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein’s French connection, bikini coeds at the beach, the latest Hollywood scandal, bigger and better whatever. Very little about caring for others or thinking about the big picture, e.g., the environment, climate change, refugees…
Bleak. But the hope, as Ms. Washington suggests, is in the here and now. We define ourselves by how we respond in the moment as we move about in our daily activities.
The hardest is perhaps how we treat ourselves. It may sound trite – but did you have a good breakfast, brush after eating, take a moment to groom properly? Treat yourself with respect? You’re worth it. Really worth it. If you were in the service, you sacrificed big time. Unfortunately, you may be the only person willing and able to make an adequate payback. Start by treating yourself kindly. I’m not talking about a total makeover. Just one little thing at a time: don’t drink that coffee on the run, take a moment to breathe, and smile at your reflection in the mirror.
And for others, start close to home. Acknowledge your kids or the person you may share space with. Greet the people you meet on the street with a smile or friendly nod. And there’s nothing wrong with holding open a door for the following person when you’re entering a building.
Then there’s the harder challenge of expanding our awareness of the hurt others experience from prejudice and discrimination – NOW. Be aware that ads of lingerie are objectifying women – that’s a whole bunch of humankind. Prejudicial statements are exactly that – bigoted – recognize them as such. And when anyone makes a denigrating remark, stereotyping a group of people, speak up. Don’t go along and condone it by staying silent.
As for Rosewood and the many other horrors that happened in the past. Don’t forget; don’t repeat. While we can’t undo them, we can and must acknowledge them; it’s a start. And as we go forward, treat ourselves and others kindly and with an open heart.
Here’s another thought that fought through my dreams – I get help where I can. I’ll dress up the story.
A small boy is waiting with his nanny in the lobby of a large concert house. His grandfather is late and he has their tickets. The house lights have flashed for the second time and when the nanny looks out of the front door she sees grandpa hobbling as fast as he can but he’s still a block away. He will never be there in time. Somehow a message is sent to the conductor before she comes on stage. She thinks for a moment and instead of going to the podium, stops and talks to the first violinist who is responsible for having all the instruments in tune. The conductor returns off stage and the orchestra once again slowly retunes. By this time the grandpa and young boy have made their way to their seats and the conductor mounts the stand, taps her baton, and the concert begins. Only the conductor knows why she delayed the concert and she’s not telling.
There’s a music lesson to be learned. It’s important to show consideration to all and this without bravado. The music that results is heavenly.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.