so, right before i was all set to head out of town to
begin my Labor Day weekend, i wind up seeing something
on Facebook from an artist friend. ‘RIP Chris Lighty’.
the news hit me like a ton of bricks. even more so when
i found out it was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Chris Lighty was an icon in music, influential, powerful.
even had his own managerial company. he was at the pinnacle.
he was even getting back with his wife who he had separated
from. he had two daughters. and yet, it wasn’t enough to
keep him from submitting to the demons that ravaged him.
i remember the shock of it all. how everyone couldn’t
believe it…and yet, they could. we all could. because
it’s something that looms on our horizons at times, even
if we don’t want to admit it. for those of us of color,
suicide is something we can’t say we as a community don’t
do anymore. truth be told, it’s hung around all the time,
like the surreptitious growth of rust along the steel we
so often strive to project in this world. it’s a topic
we don’t want to discuss, one that gives us pause because
how can anyone get so far gone as to GO THERE? it defies
logic, at least the logic we employ to enable us to keep
things moving day to day. and yet, we don’t realize that
people who go that route use that logic to commit that act.
i often hear the sentiment, being raised in a Christian
family, that those who take their own life don’t see God’s
face. that sentiment is not isolated strictly to Christianity,
it can be found in other faiths as well. but the thing is,
for someone dealing with that inner turmoil, we don’t
understand that they may be in such pain that it doesn’t
even matter. they’re referred to as demons for a reason.
because demons will not only take your reason, but it will
use it against you for their own purposes.
it’s tougher being a person of color and also being an
artist or creative soul because the rigors that come with
such a life lead us to develop some of that rust over
time. you can’t help but do so in this contemporary society
that alternates between exploitation, devaluing and other
forms of consumption of the soul. for example, i recently
watched the documentary, ‘Still Bill’ again about the
great musician, Bill withers. i always get struck by how
he talks about his own bouts of manic depression. it then
leads me to think about those we lost due to it, greats
like Don Cornelius and Weldon Irvine and Phyllis Hyman,
to name a few. it seems that the more we build up our
personae to be towers of steel, the more we get taken
aback at the rust of anger, loneliness and hurt that
shows up. and we think we can’t remove it at all.
folks, i don’t claim to have answers when i write on
stuff like this. but i do know that on such a sensitive
topic like this, we need to talk about it. TALK ABOUT
IT. be open, be honest. check in with the people you
care about from time to time. don’t fool yourself into
thinking that it can’t happen to you because life has a
way to break you down when you least expect it. if you
are going through something painful, seek help outside
of yourself. trust that support system. i’ve volunteered
on a hotline before, and for those who called in, all
they want is for someone to listen. LISTEN. be mindful.
get involved. let those in pain know, that rust doesn’t
make them anything if not more powerful, more beautiful.
until the next time…