During a recent appearance on NBC’s Today, singer Janelle Monáe performed her songs ‘Yoga’ and ‘Tightrope. Along with several labelmates (including Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, and George 2.0) she also performed a new song, ‘Hell You Talmabout’. ‘Hell You Talmabout’ is an amazingly powerful song. It literally gave me goosebumps. The song is a protest song in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It features a series of chants naming many African-Americans who have had their lives stolen as a result of systemic racism. Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Trayvon Martin. Emmett Till. Freddie Gray, Jr. Michael Brown, Jr. Walter Scott. These are some of the names featured in the song. I’ll be honest, while the song affected me powerfully, I was worried for a few minutes that the focus would only be upon African-American men. It is a significant concern because the deaths of African-American women as a result of police brutality are often downplayed in the media. I’m happy to say that several minutes into the song, the names Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Sandra Bland, Miriam Carey, and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton were also featured, which allayed my fears, and allowed me to enjoy the song without regret (because funny me, when I say Black Lives Matter, I’m talking about *all* black lives and last I checked black women are part of that group). I can’t embed the video of her Today performance, but it can be viewed here. Here is a YouTube video of the song at the kickoff night of the Eephus Tour at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA (it’s fine, but I prefer the Today version).
There I stood in sheer disbelief.
I was floored.
I almost wanted him to repeat what he said.
But no, I’d heard his words.
“You should run for mayor. I’d vote for you.” he said.
Early last year, at one of my previous bartending jobs, I had the pleasure of engaging in an extended conversation with a guest (call him J). His wife was out of town, and thus he was dining alone and it was a slow night so I was able to chat with him for some time. IIRC (If I Recall Correctly), this was around the time of the Sochi Winter Olympics (J’s wife was involved in some sort of security detail related to the Olympics). Anyway, we discussed a host of topics, from the possible danger his wife might face to the rumors of an increase in sex trafficking with the massive influx of people going to the Olympics. From there we branched off and discussed sexual assault statistics, Rape Culture, and more. I began to notice that J was more interested in learning about me, which was evident by the fact that he kept posing questions; questions that seemed quite genuine. I never got the impression that he was feigning interest or trying to lead our conversation in any particular direction. Over time, we came to discuss my worldview. J asked me what my religious beliefs were. I was hesitant to answer his question. After all, I live in the South, which is deeeeeeply religious. And there I was, a bartender, dependent upon the good graces of guests to make a living. If I said anything untoward or potentially offensive to a guest, I could risk losing a tip (or worse, since the state of Florida allows employees to be fired for anything).