A few weeks ago, my friend and I decided to spend the afternoon at The Broad. Our trip had been inspired by the opening of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room and we were both equally excited to see the contemporary museum's collection. Many pieces stood out as there were Basquiat's and Warhol's and all the "fancy" ish I couldn't wait to stage selfies near. At the time I was feeling a bit uninspired so I hoped the art would help. One piece, Robert Therrien's "Under the Table", turned my lack of inspiration into an overwhelming feeling of sadness. As I walked underneath the art piece, I couldn't help but wonder if folk like me and my friend would ever get a seat at the table.
Our museum trip was in late August and it had been a summer filled with disappointment and rejection. A lot of my issues were internal and self-inflicted. I was working and creating from home and not finding much light or joy in my work. My friend's situation was largely dependent on forces outside of herself. She's job hunting in a very difficult time - yes I think there's tons of new jobs out there, but the unfortunate reality is that it appears there aren't many seats at the President, CEO and SVP table for people like my friend. She is highly educated from top "name brand" schools. She's had stellar work history and accolades to match. On paper and via her references, she's everything an employer can imagine. She's even gone above and beyond and enlisted professional career coaching. This girl is on top of it but still nothing is happening. I shutter at the thought of saying this but I have come to believe she's having issues because of her name and ultimately her race. As is generally the case with a name like "DaVida Chanel", my girl's name is one that lets employers know or have a strong idea of her ethnicity before they ever meet. I could be wrong but from the outside looking in, I think her reservation is being held up due to her race.
I have no clear cut evidence of this - just a gut feeling. The first thing my white friends would say when they hear comments such as mine is that I'm too sensitive or maybe that I misunderstood. They would try to console me or make the situation less black and white by offering other scenarios or solutions. But unfortunately, the past two years have made my tongue in cheek comments more valid than ever. I feel so frustrated because race relations in this country seem to be on the rapid decline. Every day its something else...it's become just stupid.
This morning I drove from Chula Vista to Culver City, an approximate 3 hour drive. I took that time to thoroughly listen to Solange's new album, A Seat At the Table. The first interlude was cool, I liked the first song and then the next interlude. But when it got to no.4 "Cranes In The Sky", I sort of lost my shit - not in a turn up let's get buck way but in an OMFG how does this person know exactly what I was feeling when I couldn't? She began...
I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair
I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder
And at that, I couldn't stop the tears as they came down. This song is the melancholy anthem that encapsulates my Summer '16. Other songs that tapped my heartstrings were "Don't Touch My Hair" and "F.U.B.U.". The album is filled with anecdotal interludes from her parents and hip hop icon, Master P. By the time "Closing: The Chosen Ones" played, I was well pleased. This album spoke to me and my peers. It understood us. It doesn't define us but rather for once I felt like it's not just me. Fueled by heartfelt lyrics, stellar production, key interludes and masterful arrangement, Solange has audibly captured the spirit of the day.
While I pray that this album is a sign that seats are currently being prepared for my homegirl and I (yes I think music from my fav artists comes right on time with my individual personal change), perhaps it's an invitation to create tables our own. It could also be a realization that those tables out there aren't all that any way, especially since we have to bring so much to it with our natural ability to just be dope in whatever we aspire to do. I'm not sure but what I can guarantee that Solange's sound continues to evolve and offer an alternative to the status quo. Ms. Nina Simone left us with the phrase that its an artist's duty to reflect the times. I think Ms. Knowles-Ferguson is doing that quite well.