Billie Holiday and the First Hundred Days

President Biden has made new promises to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racial divides which can undoubtedly result in releasing a new season of reassurance to the ailing and marginalized community in Harlem World and countless regions in American society, but there should be a level of patience and skepticism within our collective mind. Yes, an era of chaos, abuse, sabotage, and dishonesty has ended since the swearing-in of new power and Biden wants speaking honestly about the healing of our hearts and minds, but he can never truly understand the trauma of oppression and the terror that has been bestowed upon us as a people. Kamala Harris understands, but we must wait and see if she and the president can create solid policies that will withstand a possible entrance of a conservative administration that historically arrives after the reign of a Democrat president.

When it comes to the pace of our culture, I think of what Billie Holiday said in an interview on Night Beat with Mike Wallace in 1956. When asked about why she thinks Jazz musicians tend to die young and so early she said, “…we try to live one hundred days in one day and we try to please so many people, and we try to – like myself, I want to bend this note and bend that note, and sing this way and that way, and get all the feeling and eat all the good foods and travel all in one day, and you can’t do it.”

We can’t live the President’s first hundred days in one day. We’ve got to wait and see if our new governmental identity will turn out to be a help or a hindrance for Black people and marginalized people who live in the United States. If we try to live a hundred days in one day, and with temperance and a healthy understanding of history, we can find a balance between our celebration of the past tumultuous days being behind us with the slowly greeting of a new day.

I had many more thoughts on Billie Holiday that I will share in the future, but she was a wise woman and also a cautionary tale of what happens when we try to live too quickly, experience everything, go everywhere and do things to the point of perfection. She’s a fallen angel who left jewels of information on how we should pace ourselves in order to live long lives. We should allow our realities to unfold and to take time to think about the lessons we have learned before we quickly move forward to something new. In the first one hundred days, let’s see how things play out, and let’s never forget that we can love one another, no matter how rapidly or slowly we do things. And that we have the choice to be conscious, patient, and intentional about who we engage with our administration. Let’s hope that the government will come through for us. But if it doesn’t we know that we have plenty of love within our own homes and communities. Supporting our own is incredibly important. –Jordannah Elizabeth

Photo credit: Columbia Records


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