I know it's been a while. I've been a bad girl, hopefully you won't be bored.
In case you have been under a rock for the past six days Whitney Houston is dead. I’ve listened to people talk about her and her life, her death, her talent etc. and decided I might as well put my two cents in.
First of all, I have to say my deepest sympathies go to Whitney’s family, particularly her children, who should not have to go through this on top of the chaos their life has already been. Okay, any Whitney worshipers might as well leave the room now.
I heard today sombody is going to fly the flag at half mast in her honor tomorrow. Well not to put to fine a point on it – why? Flying the flag at half mast is meant to honor political and civic leaders, military heroes or people who have made significant contributions to the advancement of civil society. Not to say that Whitney Houston was not talented (how talented is a matter of opinion) but political or civic leadership?, heroism? significant contributions? Let’s be truthful she was a singer. That’s what she did and it’s what she was known for. There are lots of ways in which any city can honor Whitney. Let’s find a way to honor and celebrate her that is appropriate to who and what she really was.
I cried a little when I heard the news, but my tears were for the loss her children and parents must feel, and the waste of potential. Whitney did not really do anything that hundreds of others have not and do not do. She sang songs to entertain us. I’m sure she worked hard but I don’t think she even contributed anything particularly new and innovative to her chosen field of endeavor. Not to say she might not have, but so far as I can see - not so much. I don’t think she did anything more than walk through doors which several also talented women had already pried opened through blood, sweat and tears (shout out to Aretha, Billie, Ella, Etta, Tina etc.).
Ok here comes the inevitable comparison to Michael Jackson. I don’t think flying the flag at half mast would have been any more appropriate then than it is now but I do think, in the grand scheme of things, Michael was probably more deserving. Michael was an innovator. He pioneered things in entertainment that people are still doing or trying to do 20 years later. He also was an incredible humanitarian giving and doing much to improve the lives of children all over the world – a lot of it not in the public eye.
Whitney was a talented but flawed human being. She was not someone who I would want my niece to emulate. She made bad choices in her life and wasted or destroyed a good deal of her potential. This is why I have a problem with the culture of celebrity. Just because someone is famous, or has a particular talent, we want to elevate them to hero status. Folks, we need to start looking at real heroes. Men and women who go to work every day to support their families, who try their hardest to raise productive, humane citizens of the world, all without being in the spotlight or getting any recognition. People who know, that while art can sustain us, there’s more to life than hitting a ball around or having a particular talent for music.
So yes, let’s mourn Whitney Houston. Mourn the woman who even though she did not come from the ghetto let the ghetto rule her life; who after several people tried to get her help would not or could not accept it; the woman who if she had been Whitney Houston from Garden Valley Estates would probably have seen her children in foster care; mourn the loss of a talent that gave millions of people great pleasure. Yes, let’s mourn her but let’s not, in mourning her, try to turn her into someone she was not or make her more than she was. Let's pray for her departed soul and for her fractured family. Let’s try to learn, from the lessons of her life and death, how to maybe keep someone else from going down the same sad and futile road and let that be our memorial to Whitney Houston.