Sunday, August 10, 2008


I just ran to the steps to yell to my husband that Isaac Hayes is dead.

I spent the last day and a half trying to compose a succinct and meaningful comment on the death of Bernie Mac. Now, I hardly know what to say at all.

I'm still a little--no, a lot--shaken up by the fact that Eddie Levert lost two of his sons one right after the other. This loss of talented, creative black men seems to be a tragic spiral that is out of control. I feel little like I did when I was in college and there was a rash of young black men, some who were college students, who died near the college. I remember feeling numb, as if this was just going to keep happening in spite of our collective grief or my individual shock. It felt as if something were wrong.

And now, I feel again like something is wrong. We might revisit The Diva's posts on creativity and the lack of it in recent years. Losing these men who offered us the opportunity to witness their deep creative efforts feels wrong. They weren't old men, and yet their bodies couldn't sustain them in a country where medical advances and nutrition are among the best in the world. I can't help but to think of the gap in life expectancy between black and white men. I know that there are myriad ills that explain that gap, but I think that these losses are tragic. They were artistically brave and left it all on the floor each time they performed. They gave us a complicated mix of masculinity, race, sexuality, and creative intellect. They didn't necessarily save lives, and they didn't win any Noble Prizes. But we are reminded of the things that make us feel alive: laughing, dancing, singing. They didn't save lives, but didn't they help us perfect the process of living?

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