Dear Miss Simone
Recently, a friend suggested that I watch "What Happened, Miss Simone?" This Netflix documentary about the boldly beautiful and incomparably talented Nina Simone focuses on how Nina found her love for music. As told in the documentary, music brought Miss Simone immense joy, an unequivocal escape, and unmatched pain. Her talent became her drug, helping her escape the rawness of the world while silently killing her spirit and the dreams she longed to obtain. Watching the documentary awakened memories within myself. Memories that helped me to both sympathize and empathize with Miss Simone. The words from Miss Simone that became embedded in my memory were, "I was unconsciously dealing with race that wasn't consciously on my mind, at all, until years later." During the Civil Rights Movement, Miss Simone wrote "Mississippi Goddam," which was written in 1964. "Keep on sayin' "go slow".... to do things gradually would bring more tragedy. Why don't you see it? Why don't you feel it? I don't know, I don't know. You don't have to live next to me, just give me my equality!" Five decades later, these words are still relevant to African Americans today. As I listened to her sing, my soul cried out, "What has the world come to?", but I was quickly reminded that this has always been. Nina Simone proved that intelligence and genius could be inspired by art and not just book smarts. Although impossible, if I could ever speak to Miss Simone, these are the words that I would say:
With no hesitation, I recommend that everyone takes time to watch the documentary or just spare a moment to listen to one of her many, moving songs. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. And to Alvin, thank you for inspiring, encouraging, and trusting me with this task.