During the summer of 1991, I was facing some really tough times. The parents were separated, puberty was in full swing, and our central air conditioning had died. Trust me, summers in Memphis-10 are hot! I was in summer school to repeat English because I had missed my finals when big sis had a life threatening car accident the year before. To be honest, my 10th grade English teacher and I had a mutual hate for one another. She was a hateful old lady and I never understood why she had it out for me, but life goes on.
So anyway, during this rough summer (or around that time), Sounds of Blackness dropped Optimistic and once again, a song saved my life (or so I like to think). I listened to that cassette tape every single morning as I got dressed. “…keep …your head …to the sky” The heat during those days was almost too much to bear. I would put on a shirt and it would be soaked in sweat before I could leave the house. I needed a light at the end of the tunnel, I needed hope and something to fight for and something to live for. Music charms the soul.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about this song. I can only imagine there were tons of us African Diasporans who needed that song then, and we need it now. And that need for optimism has little to do with Trump or Covid-19. Our problems go deeper and much further back. Life is grand, but I really need this song right now. I have to keep my head to the sky – embracing the sun, the life-force, and reading the stars.