For the next 344 days, I will be writing entries under the title, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS.’ Moved to pick up the pen not merely by Troy Anthony Davis‘ death/execution, but more so by his life/evolution, I hope that there are those out there who can relate. If so, we must connect. We are already connected. Axé.
A little while back, I wrote an entry entitled ‘Roses for the Living‘ after watching a video called ‘Roses‘ by Smiff N Wessun. The entry was about how most of us generally wait to praise and/or appreciate the brilliance of a loved one until they transition to the next realm through what we know as ‘death.’ In the past year, we have witnessed the transition of Gil Scot Heron, Don Cornelius, Etta James, and most recently, Whitney Houston.
Due to Whitney Houston’s international status as a multi-platinum recording artist there will probably be a much greater hooplah in the media regarding her passing than there was for the aforementioned artists. This doesn’t take anything at all away from Gil Scot’s poetic genius, or Etta James’ resounding vocal tones, but Whitney was a mainstream artist. Whenever you swim in this current, the spotlight is brighter, the stakes are higher, and the scrutiny is painfully intense. Almost no one makes it out unscathed.
We all read about Whitney Houston’s battle with substance abuse. Many of us watched reports, reality T.V. shows, and interviews about the ups and downs of her relationship with singer Bobby Brown. Some of us even made jokes about her struggles with drugs. As much as we were empowered and inspired by her music throughout the years, we were also investing energy and time listening to stories of her downfall, making light of her struggles.
The same thing happened with Michael Jackson. These great spirits came bearing incredible gifts of music and art, but when they were revealed to be human, we turned our backs on them. Before her transition, despite all of her empowering music, Whitney was probably best known for her downfalls in life. This is the hard truth I face again with her loss. As with Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and so many others, flowers are thrown for the dead. But, what about the living?
Through writing today, I am simply reminding myself to stay away from the traps of corporate media that lead us towards judgment and ridicule. We are human beings. When artists like Dave Chapelle and Lauryn Hill take a step away from the mainstream, we question them for leaving the money and fame behind. But, when the pressures of fame lead to an early death for artists like Whitney Houston, we want to throw our hands in the air and wonder why?
At the end of the day, how you see and /or remember Whitney Houston is simply a reflection of what’s inside of you; it is not a definition of who she was, or what she accomplished with her life on this planet.
Just bearing witness today.
My name is Jonathan ‘Jbro Mpeanaji’ Mahone, and I am one-half of (RAS) Riders Against the Storm. I AM TROY DAVIS.