John Legend, What’s Really Going On?

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Recently, I had the pleasure of an invitation to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl with my good friend and neighbor. She called to say she had several extra box tickets and wondered if I would like to attend with my daughter as my husband was away on a business trip. I said yes before even learning who was in concert because the experience of being outside on a cool summer night in Los Angeles is always a good idea.

She mentioned that she loved John Legend and that he would be doing songs by Marvin Gaye. I said, “Sounds great, Effi!” though I had no idea who John Legend was…But my ten year old daughter heard his name and started jumping up and down. “MOM!!! Pleeeeez, we have, have, have to go! He is so cool!” I giggled and surprisingly replied, “Okay, okay, we will go. Now, calm down.”

So we arrived early, valet parked and made our way to our mid-stage seats with an amazing view. We were giddy as we spread the Dollar Store red and orange polka dot plastic table cloths onto our tables with yummy Gelson Market salads, salmon and crab cakes. Effi and I enjoyed sipping a nice white wine ironically named “Conundrum” (which turned out to be a rather revealing omen) as we waited for the start of the concert.

The lights dimmed and the air grew cooler as we slipped on sweaters and anxiously awaited the music. A soulful Sharon Jones accompanied John Legend as he began his tribute to Marvin Gaye.

Effi and I were instantly transformed to our youth. A friend in his early 30’s later reminisced that the songs brought tears to his eyes as he remembered his parents listening to these same songs. It was turning into a nostalgic night and it was a delight to watch my ten year old’s reaction to the songs of Marvin Gaye. She was swaying back and forth and clapping her hands as loudly as me!

Intermission came too soon and we enjoyed delicious pastries and cake as we awaited the second half of the concert. Dodging the souvenir booth proved a bit challenging as my daughter insisted that she needed that stuffed animal bear as we wrangled our way to the restrooms.. We slithered into our cozy seats just before the lights went down.

Mr. Legend sauntered onto stage still clad in his white suit, only this time, the jacket was open and he was sporting a black tee shirt. It read, “Don’t Shoot” and the audience erupted in applause. Suddenly, a tribute to Marvin Gaye had turned into a political agenda. What the heck?

Then, Mr. Legend introduced the first of a series of poets who were there to cast a modern day spin on the lyrics of Marvin Gaye. A young Asian girl, whose name I did not catch and whose credit did not appear on the screen after the show, stole the evening according to one reporter. She wrote a poem about her father’s deployment in Afghanistan.

She recited in a militaristic, angry tone, “When my father returned home from Afghanistan, he told me about dust. The way it swallowed a country and caked onto its windows of its bee hut. It’s better that way, he said…….. So you could imagine yourself to be somewhere else but not all of us have this luxury…..because colored boys are taught to make heaven out of this unholy skin.” She continued by blasting Fox News, CNN and the US Congress who imagined themselves to be somewhere else where the gunshots are less loud and disruptive. She shouted that this country allowed Zimmerman and Mehserle to sound the same and slammed the media for its headlines, “Is Michael Brown the new Trevan Martin?”

Angrily, she shouted that there would always be a black boy to be the face of our progress and that the police department in Ferguson carried more gear than her father carried in Afghanistan. “Not all of us have this luxury of creating heaven out of tear gas!” she proclaimed loudly. Huh?

She shouted in conclusion, “I don’t want to make revolution out of the sons and daughters we have lost. Instead, I want to make revolution out of the sons and daughters we have left!”

A majority of the stadium erupted in deafening applause and a standing ovation as Effi and I stared at one another in disbelief. We gazed around the stadium, which seats approximately 18,000 and saw scores of people on their feet in a surreal allegiance to something we could not exactly define. They reminded me of sheep, just blindly accepting the bait.

Clearly, the nostalgia of the first half had disappeared and I found myself getting angry, too. What happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” or gathering all the facts instead of inciting violence? And P.S., did anyone recall, or even care, that Jim Foley was beheaded today by a British Isis member? I had questions, too. ” What’s REALLY Going On?” I wondered.

A bit later a group of three high school age girls came onto the stage in unison as they referenced Common Core learning standards. Shouting in an almost robotic fashion, they began to slam everything about America. They spoke after the song, “Mercy, Mercy Me” addressing the topic that “the greatest lessons are the ones you don’t remember learning.” They cited that “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Catcher in the Rye” and some works of Maya Angelou were banned by state governments but the right to own a gun was not. “Only one of these things has been banned by their state government and it is not the one that can rip through flesh. It’s the one that says F.U. on every other page.”
They shouted that Mama only got paid once a month and she worked for the city. The preppy girls in the uniforms giggled over where to buy their prom dresses while they were left shopping at thrift stores, not because it was cool but because it was all they could afford. The militant and angry tone was, again, deafening.

I wasn’t sure what these high school girls spewed hatred against most: education, men, single parent families. Their presence was disturbing and directing the audience to feel the same outrage. Many were on their feet applauding again and cheering for something I do not think they fully understood. “The greatest lessons are the ones you don’t remember learning?” What does that even mean? It did not seem to matter anyway.

My daughter kept looking at me with eyes the size of saucers whispering, “Why are they doing this, Mama?”

All I could say was that they were really upset but so was I. How dare John Legend turn this concert into a political agenda and condone these angry young voices as he smugly played background music to their rants?

More young black males die every weekend in Chicago at the hands of other blacks or hispanic gang members than in Afghanistan but no one is sending 50 FBI agents or Eric Holder to investigate their deaths. Why didn’t the IRS scandal and Loris Lerner get this kind of attention? This administration has created more racial division in our country than we have ever experienced.

As I later relayed this story to my husband, he reminded me of a chilling fact. He said to think back to Hitler and how he used the youth to blindly follow his cause. It gives me chills to think how manipulative the narrative is and how easily people buy into it without question. I only pray that history does not repeat itself.

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’]http://joeforamerica.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/girl-145095_640.png[/author_image] [author_info]Lisa Burgard was born and raised in Danville, Virginia but made the move after college to the big apple as a TWA JFK-based flight attendant. Transitioning to Director of Dior’s Flagship Boutique on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, she traveled twice to Paris for the fashion week buy. She was recruited by competitor, CHANEL, to manage their sales team where she enjoyed a fast pace with some of the world’s leading celebrities, business and political clientele. After meeting her husband, Chris, she relocated to the West Coast where together they formed Little Bonanza Productions. Their 2007 award-winning documentary, Border, screened for Congress and the Senate. They share a 13 acre ranch outside of Los Angeles with four horses, three cats, four dogs, thirty seven chickens, a donkey, a parrot and their designer-aspiring, ballet dancing ten year old daughter.[/author_info] [/author]

 

About Author

Lisa Burgard

Lisa Burgard was born and raised in Danville, Virginia but made the move after college to the big apple as a TWA JFK-based flight attendant. Transitioning to Director of Dior's Flagship Boutique on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, she traveled twice to Paris for the fashion week buy. She was recruited by competitor, CHANEL, to manage their sales team where she enjoyed a fast pace with some of the world's leading celebrities, business and political clientele. After meeting her husband, Chris, she relocated to the West Coast where together they formed Little Bonanza Productions. Their 2007 award-winning documentary, Border, screened for Congress and the Senate. They share a 13 acre ranch outside of Los Angeles with four horses, three cats, four dogs, thirty seven chickens, a donkey, a parrot and their designer-aspiring, ballet dancing ten year old daughter.

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