I had to think a long while before writing this entry and why it's been a while since chatting with you. It wasn’t for lack of what to say, it was how to share observations about the annoying rhetoric we’ve all witnessed, especially during the recent election, touching on issues of gender, race, and class. There’s been a lot of really ignorant stuff thrown out into the public arena, and while that's not new to our national forum, the level of escalation became hard to bear. I’ve concluded that it’s an “interesting” moment in time we’re living. That’s the nicest thing I can say about it.
As I swam along with others in our national petri dish, there were moments I was stunned and repulsed at the level to which public interaction had sunk. It became a troubling contest of immoral athleticism. It’s as if some sketchy permission had been given to act out behavior and language mirroring disturbing earlier periods of our American history. It’s been a long time, decades, since I’d witnessed such malformed and purposefully hateful assertions directed at targeted populations. When humans behave badly or make ignorant comments and claims, I’d learned, that because you pick your battles, often there’s no point in trying to make sense out of their non-sense. But, when it’s particularly ill and regularly overt, it’s hard to let it slime by.
Initially annoyed and disconcerted, I then found myself intrigued and curious about the phenomena of extreme ignorance and how it partners with denial. There are so many recent examples to point to of overt bigotry, gender phobia, and attempts to bifurcate economic classes in this country. Too many to note here. If folks only knew how much they reveal their own insecurity and impotence as they expel this retro-hater waste. It can be witnessed as some folks of non-color call for an all white leadership in the "White" House and phrasing it in language I will not mirror, or the race-baiting of immigrants through false economic windows, and all the anti gay and female gender phobic assertions. It's been a very thick and sticky layer of smelly stuff adhering to the national note board.
With that foaming-at-the-mouth-hater rhetoric playing as back ground music, I also found it curious how some folks of color forwarded badly scripted formula emails that in some cases were fundamentally in conflict with and in denial of their own culture and immediate family history. I usually just roll my eyes when receiving this type of correspondence, but what stood out for me was receiving an email chastising illegal immigrants. While I have a very different view of immigration than that of anti-immigration folks, the stance itself is not my point here. My point is that it was profoundly curious and odd that some folks of color, professing anti illegal immigration chatter, somehow in their minds magically divorced themselves from the fact that one or more of their parents entered the country with an illegally purchased last name and papers. As these confused folks of color regurgitated angry anti immigration words and phrases given to them, it took all I had to keep myself from replying to their emails or Facebook posts reminding them of their own family beginnings.
These are some examples, among many, of the “magical thinking" delusional reality that's been witnessed. It is clearly ample and fertile ground for studies on "curious" human behavior and how easily folks can be manipulated. I hope several young researchers will run with it and compile revealing studies about this point in time. As a result, the whole paisley mess could become very interesting.
However, before arriving at this level of curiosity about humans and their actions, I was very troubled by the level to which our national “discourse” had degenerated. As you know by now, I often turn to drawing, music, or writing to work through challenging life experiences and to arrive at a useful perspective that pushes along my own personal or creative growth. In this case, I was moved to write a protest song. I know, it sounds corny and that's how I initially felt about it. But one morning, as the sun slid sideways across my desk, I began writing old school, pen on paper. In a very short time, this protest lyric spilled out, but I was surprised by the outcome. I’d expected to write an energetic, somewhat in-your-face lyric, but instead the message was steady, purposeful, and resigned.
The lyric I wrote, in response to the helter skelter public dynamic I just discussed, is entitled,
We The People
. I wrote it without over thinking it. What came forward began with the “voice” of our First People (that also includes ancient Indigenous Pre-Conquest/Méxican cultures whose empires resided in large sectors now occupied by the U.S.). Not everyone came to this land by choice, so it was important to also acknowledge the people who were "stolen" and forced into slavery.
We The People
also acknowledges the many others who came to this land "hoping for more."
Probably the most important message is shared in the second verse of the lyric:
I may not look like you, at all
I may not think like you
Or even like you
But, we the people
Was what was agreed
Words written, in blood
Copyright ©2012 Lorraine García-Nakata
So, in effect, I’m saying that we need to get over ourselves and remember the premise upon which our country was founded. It doesn’t belong to any one faction, gender, culture, or economic class.
Once the basic lyric was scribed, it was introduced to a guitar line I’d been fooling with for a while. Working them together, it seemed to be a good marriage. Singing it for the first time, I was startled by the emotion that welled up for me. I could barely sing it without my voice cracking. It was then that I knew, that as a woman of color, who’d seen some of the worst the 1950’s represented, then experiencing important human rights changes initiated in the 1960’s, and now witnessing attempts to roll much of that back, well, it was clear just how troubling things had become and how it had all unsettled me. This next part of the lyric is also important:
I dream, just like you
I build this “house,” just like you
I have family, just like you
Copyright ©2012 Lorraine García-Nakata
Recorded in October, it seemed important to share with you what prompted the song's inception as I also share this newly created work of mine. Also, since last chatting with you, my original music was launched on Bandcamp, a site designated for independent musicians. I was nervous about putting my work out there, but now appreciate having a place that hosts my original music, protects copyright, and also offers a professional platform to promote and sell it. I want to thank my friend and great bassist, Alphonza Kee who really liked this song and pushed me toward pragmatic actions in order to make it public and protect it. Again, special thanks to my other great bassist friend, Jim Kerwin, for drafting the music chart of this tune. I also want to thank my son Kanichi García-Nakata for helping identify the launch site. I especially extend great appreciation to my colleague and dear dear friend Lee Parvin who continues to record my work and who had a musical conversation with me, via his piano, now captured in this recording of
We The People
Let me know what you think. It’s definitely a new venture for me so feel free to share this site with friends and colleagues. Here is the link to
We The People
and other songs currently on my Bandcamp site:
I’ll close with an observation. What has become apparent to me, is that our country is in its puberty phase. It’s that phase where one can dislike their own face, hair, parents and long list of self-critical items humans navigate on the road to accepting and ultimately embracing who they are. From this vantage point, all the reactionary, angst-driven, and even hateful rhetoric many of us have and continue to witness, is no surprise. It's the cry-baby, I don't want to grow up phase. Yet, as with puberty, self-acceptance is necessary to reach maturity. It can't be skipped. Clearly our country is having trouble facing and accepting its own cultural reflection in the national mirror. However, that reflection can’t be denied if we are to reach our full potential. I remain hopeful that our country will realize that what some currently perceive as a liability, is in fact our country's greatest national and international asset.
I’ll envision a country, a world, and its "people" raising the bar on human potential rather than attempting to assert control. Artists tend to push back on overly controlling frameworks, and why, writing a song pointing to basic human tenets, was important, to me.
I’ll leave you with that for now and envision a more creative and inspired flight.
Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.