It is intermission! I find myself spending an intimate evening with Ms. Carmen Balthrop in Rosslyn, VA. Alongside José Cáceres (piano), Leonid Sushansky (violin), Lukasz Szyrner (cello), Ms. Balthrop is absolutely magnificent.
I will remember this night! A stream of beauty, skill, imagination and emotion has filled the room. As I sit with my friends, George and Oni, I am so appreciative to be here tonight. Every time I have the opportunity to see Ms. Balthrop, whom George knows, I’m knocked away. As a professor in the School of Music at UMD, it’s such a gift that my friend George can know her and my friend Jamar and Rameen learn from her, and we can see her so easily in the DC area. The last time I felt her presence was at The Fantasticks at UMD when she chatted with some of the performers and audience members after the performance, and even in chatting she was passionate and warm. Prior, I saw her in Shadowboxer at the Clarice Smith Center. Just amazing. Tonight, she soars again!
Perhaps I’ll post some photos from the reception later.
Color Theory by Justin Orlando Fair
When I was little, I loved my crayons—the only thing is…when I drew pictures of myself…mixing black and white didn’t make my skin color. The color of my skin is more than black and white. I am Mixed. My ethnic background? I am black, white, and Jewish. While I‘m proud of my ethnicity I want to let you know that I’ve always struggled for comfort in my skin and in my race.
Ever since I was a little boy, I thought that my brothers and I were the same. Just different shades of tan. But it irks me that when my brother, who has darker skin, goes to an African-American event, and feels accepted, that when I walk into the same room I don’t—all because I feel I don’t look black-enough.
Well my skin color IS WHAT IT IS: And I’m proud of it. A golden tan in the summer and a cool beige in the winter. I know that for some people, I’m not seen as a black man unless it’s summer, and for some, I’m not white until the leaves start falling. Well let me shed some light on my situation. I still see as a black man no matter how light or dark the sun makes me. And sometimes it’s that feeling-out-of-place and wishing-I-belonged that hurts.
It makes me feel like I’m somehow ‘privileged enough’ not to face the same adversity that dark-skinned blacks face. Well I realize now that just because I’m light-skinned it doesn’t mean I don’t face adversity. It just means I face adversity in a different way. I still worry about discrimination. And being who I am, I still stand out.
I’m not blind. Well—I am color-blind actually, I have trouble distinguishing some hues from one another, but that doesn’t mean I’m actually blind TO color. I’m not blind to hate. Black culture is celebrated at Maryland: to speak up and fight for our beliefs and our rights—and just as well, we’re also taught to listen and see through others’ eyes. I’ve learned that until we talk, we’re just fishing around in our heads. A dialogue must be present, or racism is just an endless cycle. For me, the word “race” just doesn’t do its intended meaning justice. I prefer ‘ethnicity’ because it’s a word that asks me ‘Who do you identify with? What does you justice? I want to know your story, the story of your peoples. Starting at you and working its way backwards and forward.’
I am black because I am African-American, not because I have brown skin. I identify as black because of my people, not because of my skin color.