Episode 1 with Black Lotus (Video, Audio & Transcript)
Where to begin… In this life, in this world, what are the possibilities? Possibilities for every man, woman and child should be infinite, endless, boundless. For me, being born in Maryland, I never knew that I would end up living my life more as a Canadian, mostly here in Toronto. And growing up with my mom as a teacher, public school teacher, music teacher, and my father not really being around… The arts drew me as a way to express myself, my thoughts, my emotions, and give context to the world as I saw it, as I experienced it. My family… Being raised in a Christian home, and… Looking at the world around me, figuring things out. Being the last of three boys in my family, and experiencing things through school, you get your own little perspective, and formulating thoughts about where my place in the world was. Now looking at the way things are today, it’s interesting that after the decades that I’ve lived on the planet, I ask myself how much have things changed from now looking back to my life before this, growing up, and as far as our relationship with the government, our relationship with law enforcement, our relationship as citizens of this planet… A lot of questions, and one of the main questions that I have in my heart and my soul is, why is there still so much disunity, so much racial injustice, government corruption?
We still have the police brutality, we still have a lack of accountability across the board… The government, the police, law enforcement, politicians cannot do whatever they want, but when something happens, it seems like there’s a double standard as far as us as citizens and them as politicians. So when it comes to justice or the lack thereof, I know that most of us would agree that we want to see more accountability.
Well now we’re seeing with the… I’m not going to say the Black Lives Matter movement, but Black Lives Matter as a group, it’s gone from a force in the community with a name to a movement. But it’s been given a bad name in the sense of, “Oh, Black Lives Matter burned down a building.” It’s like, no. There are individuals that might have been marching with our Black Lives Matter brothers and sisters, or just people that are fed up with the brutality without having to use the “Black Lives Matter movement” name, but they just decided they were fed up and they decided to burn down the building. But instead of focusing on a building burning down, why isn’t there more focus on how come these police are able to kill us in the streets without any consequence? That’s been going on from time, you know, infinitum, right?
So I don’t know what to even say about this. The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd… I’ve lived on this earth for a few decades now, and there have been killings all this time, so this is nothing to new to us, the Black community. For those outside of our community, to be watching with us now, I would say, if I may say so, after George Floyd, the whole world was watching for us, because they saw a police officer kneel on George Floyd’s neck, and then they’re like, that’s just wrong. OK, so what about Breonna Taylor? She was shot over 20 times sleeping in her bed. Where’s her justice? Ahmaud Arbery, I guess court proceedings are still going on with that. What about Malcolm X, assassination of Malcolm X, you know, Martin Luther King Jr? You know, these things have been going on for eons, right? So I think that when we speak about Black Lives Matter, racial injustice and things of this nature, I want to get you out to the core, the reasoning, the reason why… There seems to be a different set of laws for people of colour and white folks, or however you want to phrase it. I’m not into the whole white and black thing personally… Africans, non-Africans… But there’s not one set of laws for all people.
We have these loose cannons, I guess, in the police department that just want to do whatever. They think because they have a badge and a gun, they can do whatever they want… But when those loose cannons become a whole department, or the department is basically covering for these individuals, that’s why we have phrases like A-C-A-B: All Cops Are Bad. I’ve met officers in my life over the years obviously, we all have, and I’m not going to say all cops are bad, but the question is, are all cops good? Because how can all cops be good if there’s bad officers, and these other cops know that, but they’re not saying anything because they’re afraid of losing their… Well I guess in Toronto, what, 100,000-a-year salaries? I don’t know. Are they afraid of, you know, consequences of “snitching” on their fellow officers? But what is the duty of a police officer? Is it not to serve and protect?
So these are the kinds of questions that roll around in my mind and affect my heart, have been causing a bit of depression in recent months with the COVID lockdown. I went to a couple of the protests for Regis, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud, George Floyd, you know… But knowing that I’ve seen this my whole life, it really brought me down to the point where I just knew… It was hard to function to be honest, and I’m just sharing this to say that… We want to look at the injustice, we want to eradicate the injustice. We don’t feel that these police departments, should be funded with so much money when other areas of the community are not funded. It’s what, in my opinion, is meant by “defund the police.” Some want to abolish the police… Things happen… We want to call for help, 9-1-1, we want the police to come and help. If the purpose of the police officers is to help all citizens in a righteous way, I’ve got no problem with people patrolling the community, but if the police are racist, if the police are belligerent, if the police are not empathetic to what we’re going through, then what’s the point of having police officers, just to kill us? We’re all going to pass away in our time anyway, you know. So who is holding the police officers accountable for their actions? As far as I’m concerned, nobody. They do whatever they want. We’re paying them, but they’re not giving us the service that they’re supposed to. They’re not serving us, they’re not protecting us.
I always learned about leadership through my Christian upbringing and through leaders in the community who wanted to be part of a positive change, you know… Effecting positive change and making the difference in the community, and when I was studying individuals like, well, of course everybody knows Martin Luther King Jr… One of my spiritual mentors, Malcolm X, and revolutionary entities like the Black Panthers. One of the main things that I grew to love, appreciate and emulate has always been leadership… Leading by example and making a positive difference. To me, that is what revolution is all about.
You know, the news always wants to put people like Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi on a pedestal, and Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, put them on a pedestal and say that these are ideal citizens that represented togetherness and fellowship. But it’s nice to talk about them, but how come we don’t see more of this in society?
So after all these decades, I’ve seen our community groups go out and fight against racism, injustice, police brutality, and we’ve come to the realization that as far as the government is concerned, they’re not really concerned about us… It’s only justice for some people. So my work in the community is… What I would like to accomplish is to get people of all backgrounds together to my open mics and other events that I do to project this vibration, this feeling of love.
Love over everything through one of my first open mic situations, Innervisions, inspired by an album the one-and-only Stevie Wonder, who as we all know is about love. Innervisions, looking within, holding the vision, staying on the path, you know? So that was one of my first open mics at 52 Inc. with sisters Kit and Amy, and a lot of people came through to that. And then, after that, Acoustic Soul Tuesdays… About nine years, Trane Studio. Word Sound Power at Harlem and a whole bunch of other venues… Everyone who you would ask about these types of events that I was able to manifest through my company, Black Lotus Media… It’s all archived. It’s on there, Google it.
Anyone you ask about these events, one of the main themes that will connect all these events is a family vibration, a love vibration, and people of, you know, whatever culture… As some people say, race… We’re all here on the planet as human beings. It’s a spiritual movement that I’m a part of and that everyone who comes becomes a part of. It’s love. Love is a spiritual thing. So my own development growing up with my family and my own… What I gravitated to, of course, was, like, Afrocentric vibrations, of course, with my own culture… But the events that I put on are always inclusive. Everyone is made to feel welcome. A part of the Afrocentric vibe, we bring everybody in. It’s like the Chocolate City D.C. vibe, you know, that I brought to Toronto or wherever else I travel. It’s always going to be my main intention, which is to make everyone feel welcome so everyone feels love and everyone gets a chance to speak and to be a blessing to all those in attendance.
Now what is the objective? The objective is to raise the vibration, to raise confidence, to be a healing force, and I’ve accomplished that… Now when people go out on their own into the world after these events, they’re going to do whatever they’re going to do, they’re going to act however they’re going to act. But through the conversations, the performances at the artistic events, the open mic scenarios, we’re able to now discuss these situations of injustice, dysfunctional relationships, or love, romance. Whatever we want to talk about, now there’s a forum for us to discuss these things. Now it’s more of an artistic forum as opposed to a town hall meeting where we directly address police brutality and all these serious issues, but at least it provides a regular forum for people to get some things off their chests.
Now this is something that I feel like our local communities, politicians, the government, should also have, regular discourse with the public about what we have gripes about, because I feel like we know we’re going to pay taxes, we all have bills, we all rent, we all have different things that are always going to take place, but as far as changes in our communities that need to happen, none of us are really guaranteed that those changes are going to happen. We know that elections are going to take place, but we don’t know that things in society, in the community are going to improve.
So where do we go from here? We spoke about leadership, whether it be our local or provincial, federal politicians, our law enforcement, our police officers, our first responders, but more so police… If you go to the doctor, are you going to want to have a doctor that’s kind of good, or a doctor that’s on point, you can trust to operate on you and hopefully heal whatever’s the issue… So when you have a police officer, it’s OK that some of our officers are OK, but the others are kind of sometimey. One day they might shoot you first, ask questions later, the other day they might not, you don’t really know… No, you want every officer to uphold the law, serve and protect, and have respect, and treat everyone with dignity, especially our brothers and sisters with mental health issues, which has been a recurring issue with them just showing up within, like, six seconds, you know, or within a minute or even two minutes, is two minutes enough time to assess a situation when someone has emotional and mental issues? No, of course it’s not. Why can’t they show up and say “We are here to help, put the knife down, put the hammer down. We want to help you. What’s the issue? We don’t want anyone harmed. How may we help?” And if the officers know they’re coming into a situation with mental health involved, then shouldn’t there be a mental health worker coming along with them, perhaps?
So this is what we talk about when we speak of defunding the police, you know, allotting the funds, different aspects, changing the way that police handle certain situations where they’re not necessarily needed, or maybe more health workers and then a couple of police just to maintain law and order, not shoot, kill, maim. So while these conversations have gone on for years, I’m not going to say I’m sick and tired of it all, but I’m not going to say that it doesn’t affect me. I don’t know about mentally, emotionally… But holistically, it’s not a good feeling. Like my shirt says, it’s all about good vibes. We have a beautiful day and some of our friends and family aren’t here to enjoy it. Right now with the tension of COVID worldwide, issues, things going on, you know, there’s this opportunity for us to have more understanding… To meditate, take time, kind of fall back a little bit. See where we can be a force for good… Help effect positive change and raise the vibration, the good vibes… So that’s always been my goal.
I’m not going to say that I’ve never kind of swayed away from the path, be affected by things that are around me. We all make our mistakes. We have to learn from… Learn the lessons from life. But for the most part, I would say that I’ve always done my best to be part of the solution and speak on the problems, and bring other like-minded people together through my open mics or my DJ nights, DJ Black Lotus… Doing my thing with the soulful vibrations… To bring all cultures together as one in the name of love, the name of peace, enlightenment… Because this world is all we have, you know, whether it’s life on Mars or on the Moon, it doesn’t even matter. We need to take care of our Earth and take care of each other. So as we travel on this road to possible, let’s all keep striving for better… Perfecting what’s wrong, clarifying… Searching for understanding and believing that we can make a change, and do what we can to make that change happen.
So that’s my word, that’s my peace. Thanks for listening, and keep on on this journey, because anything’s possible, but it starts with us and mind and heart.