Choose Joy

I’m not sure that there has been a larger source of sadness in my life than the thought of one of my parents dying. I sure didn’t like typing that sentence. I remember how devastated I’d get every time they left me with a babysitter because I was so afraid it was the last time I’d see them. That fear had receded a little further into my mind in recent years, but was right back front and center when I found out my Mom (Mother) had been diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. I gave her and my dad a hug and told them I needed a minute to myself, and proceeded to take a long tear-filled stroll around the neighborhood, probably in Polar Bear Pajama Pants, looking like an insane person. I revisited those feelings, got them out, and then decided that I needed to use my abilities to create something to bring her joy during this experience, worrying about it wasn’t going to make it any easier. I tried to write the song, but it was having a hard time coming out, as attempts at songs about my parents have seemed to in the past. It took until the night before her surgery at about midnight, but the song finally arrived and I worked on it til 5 AM so she would have it before surgery. We ultimately decided it was probably best to wait ’til after, on account of TP (Tear Potential). So instead I got to listen with her after while she was in a drug induced haze. And then again the next day, like it was the first time again! 

I am grateful to say that everything has gone smoothly and things are getting back to normal, I know not everyone is as lucky. To celebrate, we went and got family tattoos, mine (pictured above) is the Motto from Mother’s song and is a template of her handwriting.

For Mother’s Day I wanted to give the song some new life and flesh it out a little bit. So I made a new version. While I was recording the vocals, the idea for this Fridge Magnet Lyric Video came, and through some incredible help from a wonderful friend to spell everything out, and pestering my brother to edit the video in a tiny time frame, we were able to make it work. And I figured it would be a good excuse to raise some money to help make sure fewer and fewer people have to go through this experience, both personally and as a family. So here we are…

I hope you enjoy it, take some time to breathe, donate, and CHOOSE JOY!

Orange Slices

Spotify link:

*Orange Slices is under the wrong artist on Spotify.

Everybody always says “this is the most important election ever.” But I’ve never said it. So…THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER. We have a choice right now to continue down a path of endless fear and disregard for equality, or we can choose to love and treat each other the way we always talk about treating everyone but have never fully followed through on. I choose option #2, and the first step towards that is VOTING. Voting for good people. They’re out there. We deserve better. But only if we vote.

For Chicagoans, go to ChicagoVotes.com/vote for everything you need to make a decision.

Hello family and friends and whoever else this reaches, let’s call you “future friends,” how fun.

I usually start emails off with something like “I hope you’re well.” But right now I don’t hope that. It’s not that I wish you any particular harm, I actually hope you’re safe, I just also hope that this time in our lives and country and the senseless murder of Black people dominating our consciousness has made you extremely uncomfortable. I hope you have cried listening to this community’s stories. I hope you have lost sleep thinking about ways that could have made a difference but didn’t. I hope you have felt sick to your stomach that we have taken this long to wake the fuck up.

I spent the week back in Chicago, soaking in the energy of the protests and the messages of Black Lives Matter everywhere. It was another world and a needed change compared to the diversity barren shores of Williams Bay, where I’ve been staying with my lovely Grandmother. In the last week or so I’ve done a lot of listening to Black leaders tell their stories, the stories of history that led to this continued disparity and hatred, and about white peoples’ role in it, both before and going forward. I’ve been reflecting on that and want to help relay and convey some perspectives that were crucial for me understanding the importance of this moment and this work going forward to people that might not have had the chance to see this powerful evidence of shared humanity, or whose news sources may be painting a different picture. 

A big thing that struck me was how we think of the term “not racist.” I would say that a good majority of people at this point would identify as “not racist” and have behavior that generally backs up the idea that they don’t individually participate in acts of conscious hate towards Black people. That’s great and all, but it neglects all the ways we continue to allow racism and inequality to manifest in society. We may not be adding any individual hate to the equation, but at this point we do know there is inequality and participate in it daily, consciously and unconsciously. It’s easy to get defensive while considering our place in that and shut down, but it’s crucial that we spend some personal time with these hard truths. One of these truths being that there is no such thing as a “not racist. You’re either racist or you’re anti-racist. You’re either actively against the disease that festers underneath our society. The “not racist” crowd has to speak up and take action, If you’re truly not a racist then speaking up is the least you can do.

We have a lot to look at and listen to going forward. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but our discomfort of learning how to undo poisonous programming and past transgressions will never reach near the discomfort that Black people have been feeling for the entire history of this country. The equal trade for what has happened is White people being enslaved and tortured for 400 years. The fact that Black people are willing to understand that most of us were born into this stuff and didn’t create it is admirable, and their compassion throughout this awakening has been unparalleled. When people criticize the movement because of the looting and say there are better ways to protest, there aren’t. Kapernick was vilified for silently taking a knee. Martin Luther King was murdered for protesting peacefully and eloquently. White people literally killed the leader(s) of these peaceful movements. The fact that the streets are not littered with White bodies in response is astonishing because it would be absolutely justified for the way Black people have been brutalized mentally, physically, and spiritually for (at least) 400 years. Stop pretending that that should just be forgotten. If you’re upset that making a real equal place for Black people in society is too much to ask you should probably ask yourself why you find it necessary to dehumanize a segment of the population to maintain your comfort. 

If you kept a child in your basement for forty years and deprived it of education and necessities and then set it free, would you just be like, “yeah so we’re cool though right?” And then expect that 40 year old child to be alright in the world? While also expecting it to respect you above all else for fear of being locked up again? How would that person get a job? Why would that person not commit crime? How can you call that a fair start?

I’ve seen how upset this makes people who say they’re good people. Now is your moment to show that. You can either be bummed that the world is burning and wait for anybody else to do anything about it, or you can take a small uncomfortable step in the right direction. Just One Step:

Maybe that’s not using the n word occasionally for shock value jokes when you know you shouldn’t and don’t actually mean it

Maybe it’s making Black Lives Matter signs and putting them up around town

Maybe it’s putting a Black Lives Matter sign up in your yard

Maybe it’s having a few uncomfortable conversations with your friends instead of talking about what TV you’re ignoring the problem with

Maybe it’s donating money

Maybe it’s reading every day about The Black experience

Maybe it’s reading every day about the roots of racism in our society

Maybe it’s writing a letter to your Congressperson about how you’re going to vote them out if they don’t devote themselves to criminal justice reform, police defunding police, etc.

Maybe it’s writing a song

Maybe that’s speaking up when somebody says something ignorant that you can educate them on 

Maybe it’s taking a real inventory about what your Whiteness has meant to your life and realizing it’s possible that at your worst feeling moment in your life, somebody else felt that AND had the weight of being Black to carry around.

This is not going away. For whatever reason it’s different this time. And you have the time. If ever there was a time to learn about this history and movement. Everyone is running out of things to watch and scraping the bottom of the barrel, if you have time to watch old Sammy Hagar YouTube videos or rewatch the first season of Pan Am, but not to listen to the stories of people screaming for our help, you’re probably a racist. Only probably though! If you won’t affirm that Black Lives Matter publicly because your racist friend from childhood might unfriend you, you might be a racist. But only maybe. The weight of your fear of what you’re losing is nowhere near the weight of what we’ve been carrying as a society. Equality will be good for everyone. We have to get over the idea that we’d lose something if we were to make changes that allowed Black people to live fully. Do you have any idea how fucked up that is? To need a group to designate as subhuman? None of us will ever be truly free until we all are. You can say you’re happy, but it will always be above the not so low hum of racism that is baked into the backdrop of basically every moment of our lives. Every once in a while surging, so we look briefly, but then immediately look away. Because it would be too painful to look any longer, and because it’s not “our pain.” I’ve done that too many times. Just decided that I didn’t have to feel the next name because chances were it wouldn’t affect me. Not anymore. It is our pain, it’s all of our pain. It’s still surging now. It’s too large to ignore. Look at it, listen to it, feel it. I promise you ignoring this moment is going to be infinitely more difficult than giving into it. We have an opportunity to be on the right side of history, and define who we were when it mattered most. History and evolution trend exponentially towards love, kindness, and acceptance. To deny the moment is to say “I prefer to be the least evolved and informed among us because doing otherwise would threaten my sense of self and how I think the world works.” And that is the height of privilege, to just say no to millions of peoples’ reality and get on with our lives. We have to fully feel what is happening and then take major, aggressive steps towards making it right in tangible ways. We can have a society with super rich folk and tons of crime or we can have one where people don’t feel the need to turn to crime to survive circumstances that would crush nearly anyone.

I’m going to put a handful of links to different voices and stories I’ve heard from the Black community that we’re particularly impactful on my perspective shifts and passion for this movement. I promise you if you take a genuine, human second to digest them, you will be unable to argue the points that have been laid out for how we got here and how we need to go forward. As far as I’m concerned, it’s airtight. The Black community has done exhaustive work on the subject and it’s just an irrefutable fact at this point. You have to bend reality so selfishly to not acknowledge what we allow our Black brothers and sisters to go through, and there is no way that you would ever choose it for yourself. As long as that is happening, we’re going to continue to have a fucked up, dangerous world. The choice is yours. Every decision is a choice towards or away equality and equity. Love or Fear. Be aware of it. By having read all of the words up til now, I am going to assume you are aware of it. Thank you in advance for your contribution. Everyone at their own pace, but come on already. 

 

13th on Netflix-If this alone doesn’t change you it might be a lost cause.

Jane Elliot-Being Black – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yrg7vV4a5o

James Baldwin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPaBXcEVpOE

Trevor Noah on Looting – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c

Kimberly Jones on Looting and The Social Contract – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb9_qGOa9Go

Brandon Kyle Goodman – https://www.instagram.com/tv/CAto1xqD3Cc/?igshid=1vx9t18ubx976

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CAto1xqD3Cc/ Really all of his stuff.

Bishop T.D Jakes On Creating Change and Healing – https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_jXNXlBZl/?igshid=w9szeqqd9fie

5 Tips For Being An Ally with Franchesca Ramsey – https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_jXNXlBZl/?igshid=w9szeqqd9fie

 

Nicole Byer on talking to kids about Racism – https://www.instagram.com/p/CA8orb7nk8-/?igshid=1azgai4jfup8u

Looting a Store Vs. Looting a Country – https://www.instagram.com/p/CA1EE9PJZal/?igshid=nh2r1fe0e8rc

Priorities – https://www.instagram.com/p/CA1EE9PJZal/?igshid=nh2r1fe0e8rc

Some Thoughts On Defunding the Police (AKA Investing In Communities)-

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBMU3E-lM6I/?igshid=940l0rdzh9r8

https://www.instagram.com/p/CA9K6SohOAn/?igshid=7focfusy6q3p

 

Some Art To Sit and Heal With

Dee Wilson-Rose Petals – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-3KikfQo_E

Some Thoughts-John Clarence Stewart – https://www.instagram.com/tv/CA–zawjVk5/?igshid=vf36qr8cm0bi

Who Speaks For Me-Celita Williams – https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBBovFuJJ14/?igshid=1safgg7ddac5t

Rico Sisney-Hearts Too Full – https://open.spotify.com/track/2FVtE8qxvRvIbOpGKv17TN?si=xsxi5g7_Slm-vpFD3h2UHw

Emma Zeck Poem “I Would Start Fires Too” – https://www.instagram.com/p/CA0pIWdnItc/?igshid=1h9rigesi4mjq

Packy Lundholm-The Unheard – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0Jq2OQTVso

Joe Tips (Feat Sara Bareilles)-Keep Your Head Up Child – https://www.instagram.com/tv/CBTrNmUj_PK/?igshid=1vi6tt5zlrd2n

About Wallace

Hello. My name is Wallace. Before you ask, I am 6’9”, Yes, I play basketball, but only recreationally. And our weather is the same weather. My interests include pondering why we are hurdling through the nothingness (or the very much somethingness?) of space on a rock for seemingly no reason, transcribing those thoughts and feelings into song form, and then recording those songs for other confused “humans” to help them cope with and celebrate the absurdities, extremes, and monotonies that we encounter on a daily basis. If something happens in day to day life and makes me feel a thing, then I’ll probably write about it, If you’re talking to me and say something like “strong opinions, weakly held,” I’m probably going to write that phrase down in my phone and use it in a song later. And if we’re still talking, but it seems like I spaced out, the first verse is done.

I’m trying to experience as much of the joy and bittersweet wonder (pain) that life has to offer in my time here, make some music, and generally abide by a few basic principles:

  1. Do what makes you feel good (Within Reason)
  2. Be kind to others (As in, if the thing that makes you feel good makes another person feel not good, then don’t do the thing)
  3. Repeat

If that sounds like you, then come on over! Even if it doesn’t, I’d love to talk. There’s new music to listen to, plenty of applesauce, and the pizza JUST GOT HERE.

Videos

Artwork by David Gilbertsen and Joy Wallace

Original Images by Therese Niedbala