I am good at talking myself out of work.
Anybody else have this problem?
I am good at listening to a client, realizing that I know someone else who would do a better job or be a better fit, giving the client the other artist's name and number, and hanging up the phone.Linda Gorham.
I am good at listening to a client, realizing they need something different, and sending them off in a direction that is not as profitable for me.
This is one of the reasons The David talks to clients and not me. He has way more faith and confidence in my being the right person for the job than I do!
Even so, there are times when he gets a call that requires me to speak directly to someone who wants to book an event.
This happened a few weeks ago.
The David handed me the phone and there was a bubbly woman on the other end who worked at a high school.
Somebody at her school had seen Chairs In The Trees, and was certain that it would be perfect for their school. I assured her it would.
Then she proceeded to tell me it was their Black History assembly, and after the set she wanted me to lead the students in a discussion of social justice today.
I stopped her right there, suggested she get someone from their local community like an Alderman or something to speak to them.
She stopped me and said the kids were already planning to interview African American leaders from the community to find out what they thought about social justice. They were going to play the clips during the assembly.
I told her about an event I'd gone to in the past where High School students had created a "Colored Museum". They'd filled a space with the history of African Americans who'd contributed everything from inventions, scientific breakthroughs, and social justice movements to our culture.
She thought that was a great idea.
I then pointed out that Chairs In The Trees was an hour-long program. We couldn't do the entire show.
She was disappointed. We kept talking
By the time we were done, I'd agreed to tell a fifteen-minute story at some point during the event. I'd also managed to structure it and suggest how she could incorporate the various elements the kids brought to the table so they'd have a cohesive program. She was pleased.
I gave the phone back to The David.
I'd talked her out of a show doing an hour. I was going to be a moment instead of the main event. I was pretty sure it was the right thing to do.
On Friday, February 12th, I attended the show.
I have never been so glad to have talked myself out of work in my life.
The event was amazing.
It started with the student body president - a stunning African American young woman - telling her classmates that she wanted them to listen with an open mind and consider the stories and ideas they were going to be hearing.
Her counterpart - another stunning African American young woman - explained that all of us are programmed to believe things that might not be true. She said that this isn't usually malicious, but a product of where people were raised, having an adverse encounter with someone, or cultural misunderstandings.
The only way to break through institutionalized racism and misunderstandings is to listen to people
The students merged personal narrative, poetry, their thoughts about social justice, equality, and equity into an amazing presentation that sent me into tears, made me cheer, and had me howling like a crazy lady with pride.
What did they cover?
I met black girls who - by the age of sixteen - had come to love their natural hair. These young ladies told stories about being teased, or not seeing enough images of little girls like them with natural hair wanting to change themselves to look like what they thought "beauty" or "normal" was supposed to be. They ended up putting harsh chemicals in their hair because they wanted it to be "straight".
They spoke of how the societal norms of what constitutes beauty made them unhappy with their bodies, skin, and hair.
They ended by explaining that with the positivity of friends, family, and teachers, they'd come to see that their natural hair was beautiful.
|My daughter rocking her natural hair!|
They had fabulous hair!
Then, I learned about The Crown Act. It is a piece of legislation that is being sponsored by Dove soap to counter the discrimination that black women experience because of their natural hair! The research on this was shocking to me.
I had never encountered this because I don't work in an office.
The next topic had to do with body shapes.
Have you heard the term "thick" girls?
It is a term that I have heard to describe girls who are large and curvy. I was going to link to some articles or something, but most of the images are about women who have traditionally not been thought of as beautiful because of their large sizes posing in very...sexy poses.
There is a reclamation of body positivity from these grown women. I am all for that. When a girl is young, it causes a completely different problem.
One of the young women used it yesterday. She called herself a thick girl.
This soft-spoken, dark-skinned Sophomore spoke of how when they were in elementary school they wore uniforms. She was always larger than most of her peers, and it was always hard to get the sizes she needed. When she got to middle school, she could wear what she liked, but she was often sent home because her clothes were inappropriate or she was given a sweatshirt so she could "cover up".
She has shapely legs and curves everywhere and has had since she was pretty young.
It was only later she understood that leggings on a skinny girl were okay, but if she wore them, she was acting too "grown" or it was "distracting". She spoke about the sexualization of young black girls.
She didn't understand what was happening when she was younger. She didn't understand why people kept telling her she was trying to be too "grown".
She shook her head. "I am the quietest person. I like to sit in my room and read, I'm always up under my momma, I like to talk to my friends and goof off. I'm a great student. I wouldn't stay out late, I don't drink, or do drugs, or even use foul language. I don't even have a boyfriend, I've never been kissed, but I'm "grown".
She ended her segment with, "I am not the problem here!"
Well, then something happened that had me in tears for a bit.
This sixteen-year-old gentleman played a video of a poem he'd written. I'm not going to try to explain it.
|The Niagara Movement|
expressing fury, dismay, and sadness for the struggles of their classmates. Struggles that many of them didn't even know were an ongoing thing.