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Shoe Personality of the Week: 2/13/12 The Whitney Houston Edition

When the news of Michael Jackson's death came, I was at McCormick & Schmick's celebrating school being out with my teacher brother & sister. It was surreal sipping on cocktails & watching the screen above the bar with CNN coverage of MJ's demise. I heard the words, & even knew that I was beyond the man & his music by that time, but hurt nonetheless by the loss of 1 of my generation's music icons. Invincibility was never more ridiculous. Over the next few days the impact of his death on my Life stretched out between disconnect and deep sorrow.

Last night I had gone into my room to tend to the alert coming from my charging phone. B.B. was admonishing me for texting while driving earlier in the day & reminding me that he loved me in 1 text & the Lil Sis was telling me that Whitney Houston was dead.


It's such a short word to tie up the loose ends of Life & say it's done. Hmmm...done & dead both have 4 letters. Anyway, I immediately raced to the computer, forgetting the need for tissue for my runny nose, to find reputable news sources confirming the death of 1 of the best voices in ANY genre of music. I barely read anything past the 1st source choosing to throw shade in Bobby Brown's way for the unknown cause of death. Without having to consciously call upon them, the memories of Whitney over the course of my youth came rushing back, blocking out the news of the death itself to honor her Life.

I remember when Whitney Houston's 1st album made it to my house. I was 10 years old & completely fascinated by this caramel colored woman, lean & statuesque with a forehead like mine standing in front of a tropical backdrop that was enhanced by her presence.

She was beautiful! Playing the tape to death, I strolled with Whitney on her journeys through love that was anything but fairy tale. It was with her that I learned that love wasn't perfect, that it was complicated & full of twists & turns. In my mind I was preparing for the roller coaster ride that love seemed to be. Between the soap operas my grandmother watched & the musicians I listened to, I was taking notes so that I could come out on top in the game of love.

This seems like a natural segue into Ms. Houston's own issues with love but it seems to me that we've already done that. I fear that instead of taking note of a woman's deep seated issues, media outlets will use this opportunity to beat a dead horse--no pun intended--about her marriage that was labeled odd at best. It is more important to me to celebrate the voice that has soothed & healed so many of us over the years. The notion that we must but be faithful & true to our talents strikes me hard now. Whatever gifts we've come here with need to be used for the betterment of ourselves & each other. What stories will we tell with our quills & ink pots? What stories will we tell on canvas & through lenses? What stories will we tell using our bodies & our voices? What will we leave behind as an instruction manual for how to navigate this Life for the children?

I must say that is NOT lost on me the connection between Don Cornelius's mental health issues & Whitney Houston's issues with addiction, & the way Life--or death--is reinforcing the need for our communities to be much more vocal about the ills we face. Many of us are unable to cope with Life's blows & find alternative methods of easing the pain. Sometimes those methods take us out immediately or take us down slowly until we just can't get up anymore. It seems to me that instead of being worried about continuing to be painted in a negative light, we'd recognize that those strokes have already been made. Why not go on & start exposing what's beneath the surface so that we may begin collectively addressing those communal dis-eases we've swept under the rug or put under the stairs? It's time we had REAL OUTLETS for mental illness, drug addiction, post pardum depression, etc, that didn't end in bids or death. If our chosen 1's with money can't find a way to see through, how well can everyone else be doing?

There will be others who will die from sadness, loneliness, & hard living, but I hope that we can find a way to put our pride aside long enough to change the example for the generations behind us so that shame doesn't kill them in the ways it is killing us.

Light & love were all that came from Whitney Houston's voice & I wish her the same now, as well as her family & fans. Getting Grammy Snazzy & Funeral Fresh in Whitney Houston's honor. We shall tip on in grace, dignity, & beauty; wishing that Nana Whitney Houston was always able to do the same.

Watch me move.

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