|Image via classic45s.com|
When my children began noticing that their skin color was different than mine and my husband's, we all talked and decided that they were not brown, black, or white but Golden...and wouldn't you know it--Jill Scott had a song for that, too.
I hope that you get where I'm coming from: I feel huge amounts of respect, and admiration for Jill Scott. More than that...I feel a cosmic connection to this woman because of her music.
And that's why I was totally devastated when I read her piece in Essence about the pain she feels when she sees a black man married to a white woman. Written in March of 2010, it is on my mind these days because Jill has two new releases out. As I read the reviews of her cover of Bill Withers' "A Lovely Day," I was reminded of that wince she feels when she looks at people like my husband...like me...like my children. And when I think of her wincing, it kind of steals the joy I get from listening to her music. I begin to wonder how she would feel about me--a white woman married to a black man--listening to her music. Would it pain her? I almost want to apologize on behalf of humankind for the history that causes her so much pain. When I told my husband about my overwhelming urge to apologize, he said I was ridiculous because I am not the perpetrator of her pain. I am not that white woman she describes in Essence. He reminded me that my mother's family came to this country as immigrants almost 90 years after the Civil War ended. I heard him saying all of that, and yet when I read Miss Scott's commentary I still felt guilty. It is irrational, but there it is. I feel it.
At the same time, I also feel some anger and frustration. My husband and I fell in love in 1993. He didn't hate himself or his heritage then, and he doesn't hate himself or his heritage now. Yet there are many people who say he must because he married a white woman (including another of my favorite artists, Common, who in 2005-- when I'd been with my husband for about 12 years--said that black men who are in relationships with white women show a "lack of self-love.") Our interracial relationship is not about a lack of self-love. It is about loving someone else so much that your love transcends all societal constraints, make-believe systems of racial classification, and social boundaries. According to her piece in Essence, Jill Scott sees my marriage as a betrayal. I find that extremely difficult to swallow.
I have given Miss Jill Scott my admiration, my time, my respect and my hard-earned money. I feel a bond to her because of her music, and I appreciate her beautiful voice, words, and music. But that bond is seriously shaken by the knowledge that Miss Scott views my marriage as something painful. My love, my family, my reason for being makes her wince. Knowing that, it is hard for me to feel her when she sings "Lovely Day."
On one hand, I feel she has given me so much through her music that I want to give something back, to somehow be the ointment that finally soothes the burn of the past. But on the other hand, I am deeply disappointed that someone I admire so much holds such a negative view of a love, a marriage, that I know to be so beautiful. I'm hoping with all my heart that the future brings Jill Scott a truly lovely day, where she can see that love heals wounds rather than causing them.