Sunday, July 10, 2016

What Family Reunions, Zumba, and Michael Jackson Teach us about Black lives matter

The last eight days have been so incredibly refreshing. I haven't wanted them to end. I made a trip home to visit my immediate family as well as meet a good friend's new baby. Then, over the weekend I had my big biennial reunion with extended family. Not only was it wonderful to get a break from the usual work grind. It was great to get a moment of respite from the week of grief in the news.

It was interesting to gather together and experience so much joy, while the backdrop for the rest of the nation was anger and grief over racially motivated police shootings. Of course, the senseless killings hit home for us as well, as a family who identifies as Black/African-American. I just also think we have a unique experience with race relations because there's so much multiculturalism among us. Interracial relationships are almost the norm in my family. Therefore, we have always embraced white in-laws and any other cultural group, just like our own. Provided they are good people (which they always are) that can fellowship over drinks and off-color stories (which they generally do), then they're part of the fam. We're not color blind and we don't want others to pretend to be either. It's just that once the bond of love is shared, any noticeable differences just don't matter as much anymore.

In thinking about that, there was a moment when I got a little choked up standing in front of several family members. I led a Zumba class as one of the weekend activities. I looked out at my awesomely diverse family jamming out to dance rhythms and music from all over the world. As Shakira's "Waka, Waka" phased out, she said, "We're all Africa." Then, we transitioned to my favorite cool down song, Michael Jackson's, "Will you be there." Towards the end of this beautifully written song, there's a really touching speaking part. It always moves me because: 1) I love MJ and believe he was a phenomenal talent and genuine soul. 2) It felt especially poignant at my reunion as I considered how relevant his words are to what's happening today.

So, I'll close with his words and echo his sentiment. We are all just looking for love and belonging. We are all someone's child and loved one. We are all connected to something bigger than ourselves, whether we realized it or not. We all want to know we are seen for who we are, we are loved and valued by others, and, at the end of the day, there's at least one person in this world who will be there. I'm blessed beyond belief to have a whole tribe of people who are there for me.

In Our Darkest Hour, In My Deepest Despair
Will You Still Care? Will You Be There?
In My Trials And My Tribulations
Through Our Doubts And Frustrations
In My Violence, In My Turbulence
Through My Fear And My Confessions
In My Anguish And My Pain
Through My Joy And My Sorrow
In The Promise Of Another Tomorrow
I'll Never Let You Part
For You're Always In My Heart.

- Michael Jackson, Will you be there

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