So what did happen, Miss Simone? The Netflix documentary on the dynamic songstress-activist-genius was absolutely brilliant, thought provoking and a healing balm for my creative soul. You should see it immediately and if you’ve already seen it, watch it a few more times for good measure.
FACT: Racism interferes with the creative process, thoughts and direction of an artist.
|Nina Simone by Jolyn GC, 2015|
I submit what happened to Miss Simone is what happens when *@!!?*@! racism interrupts your art and by art I mean LIFE. For an artist, art and life are one in the same. If the creative process is a life long conversation an artist has with herself then racism is the rude a$$h*!e that makes you forget what you were just about to say, lose your train of thought, and make your point escape you, only to then hijack the conversation to one about mourning, disillusionment, whether to forgive or NOT, fear, violence, depression…and on and on goes the list.
Now where was, I? Oh yes, this *@!!?*@ racism. My creative process has been thrown off track lately. Don’t get me started with the folks who have told me to use what has happened to fuel my art. First of all, living as a black woman in America is fuel enough. I don’t need anymore “fuel.” Trust. What I do need is a *@!!?*@ break. A break from the tears and mourning for the Charleston Nine, black churches being burned to the ground, and countless others who have been terrorized in this country. Have you ever tried to create an art piece with tears in your eyes? I can barely see as it is hence, my red peepers. Salty tears running down my face just make for jagged cuts in my expensive collage materials.
Back then, *@!!?*@ racism, had Miss Simone taking a break from her dreams of being the first black classical pianist. *@!!?*@ racism interrupted her creative conversation and changed the subject to that of the Civil Rights Movement--a conversation about basic human rights that we are still having today. I can't help but to think who else was interrupted? There has got to be more. Miss Simone didn’t have to sing and write those songs for the Civil Rights Movement but thank goodness she did. I've grown to view her work as a sort of invitation to open in case of emergency. The times we are in now are similar to the ones Miss Simone endured AND THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. I admire her moxie, her beauty and her unapologetic blackness. Watching Miss Simone in the documentary made me so proud and replenished my weary spirit.
FACT: Nina Simone's selfless act will not be in vain if we seize the moment to take care of our artists and check in from time to time.
In conclusion, when racism interrupts your art it takes a toll on your whole creative spirit. So, if you are an artist, let me be the first to ask, How are you doing? You okay? I can tell you after employing multiple forms of art like writing and music my artful heart is on the mend. Creating art as an integral part of my personal recovery process has allowed me to talk directly to the *@!!?*@ racism and say, "SHUT THE F@*% UP, ALREADY.