By Kevin Gauthier
[Soft piano music begins playing]
After watching “Worth Striving For”, I felt it had a powerful impact on how I perceive the current state of race relations within our country. It left me with lingering questions that challenged me on my own behaviors and forced me to consider perspectives I hadn’t previously.
(0:14): Without a doubt I felt Washington’s strong delivery of his voiceover work and implementation of music to achieve different tones contributed heavily to the reaction that I had.
(0:28): In doing so, I felt it was appropriate to respond in a similar fashion by recording an audio essay of sorts, to walk through my response to this piece.
(0:35): What struck me immediately was the sense of style this project had – it felt as though I was listening to freestyle rap crossed with slam poetry. There’s a rhythmic quality Washington brings with repetition of phrases like “I don’t know anymore!” and “Be honest with me!”
(0:49): Yet the emotional weight carried through these sentiments acts as the “slam” to the poetry, so to speak. With all of this in mind, I felt compelled to ask myself questions I don’t typically ask, mainly in regards to how I fit within the larger issues Washington addresses.
(1:03): Though these questions may have been difficult to ask, it was Washington’s strong emotional appeals made through the energy he brought to his voice that made the issues not important to think about, but necessary.
(1: 17): And so I asked myself, [piano fades into silence] Where do I fit in this situation? I always considered myself to be an advocate for racial equality, and even knew well enough to know that “color blindness” isn’t the solution to establishing harmonious race relations.
(1:32): [Eerie music plays, voiceover becomes distorted] But still, I couldn’t help but question whether or not I was part of the problem. Just as Washington had demanded that Dr. King be honest with him in his hypothetical discussion with him, I too felt that I needed to be honest with myself and examine whether or not I might reinforce some of the counterproductive methods of furthering racial equality.
(1:53): And with that, I realized it happened to me too — I didn’t know anymore. I used to think it was as simple as treating others who are different than you with the same level of respect that you would want for yourself. But after hearing Washington’s cries of frustration and anger about how, as humans, we have an inherent bias against differences amongst ourselves.
(2:15): I felt a deep sense of hopelessness [eerie music fades to silence, voiceover normalizes]. So after grappling with these questions and thinking about it a bit more, I though, Maybe this is a good thing? Maybe I’m actually learning something?
(2:28): [soft piano plays again] In a sense, I felt better. Not so much because Washington’s video ended on a lighter note, but because I was forced to ask myself difficult questions that would still lead me to believe tat racial equality is indeed a goal still worth striving for.
(2:42): Without raising those questions, it makes the answers undetectable, always out of reach. But by questioning my own behaviors and taking Washington’s words to heart, I was left with a newfound sense of clarity, that new light had been shed on an issue that always seems to evade resolution.
(3:00): So while Washington still considered racial equality to be a goal worth striving for, I felt that the questions I had to ask myself, event though they were difficult questions to ask, were still questions worth asking.
(3:13): And in that sense, everything had come full circle, and I can only hope that others will feel the same.
[piano fades into silence]