Halima Leak Francis
Giving Is Groovy: The Arts and My 'Write to Bear Alms' Soundtrack
As you know, "Write to Bear Alms" is both this blog and a feature on the Eddie Francis Podcast Show. I share thoughts about philanthropy and volunteerism in hopes that a) someone is out there listening, b) someone out there is hungry to see an end to all of the injustice and negativity we face, and c) whoever is listening will be moved to be focused in their desires to make a positive difference within our society by volunteering and giving purposefully.
One of the "Write to Bear Alms" podcast segments highlighted the top causes that I feel will shape the next decade. I believe one cause, the arts, tends to fly under the radar because it’s often seen as a luxury. I believe there is a correlation between the reduced funding for the arts we’ve seen in recent years and the increases we are seeing in issues like violence, hate, abuse, etc. Painting, literature, dance, music and other art forms not only serve to produce aesthetic beauty, but they provide pathways for reflection, expression, healing, creativity, and learning. They appeal to our higher brain functions and advance mankind by tapping deep into our psyches and inspire us to, very simply, be better. When I think about advocacy and the major social justice movements of my lifetime, there is always a soundtrack – a backdrop of music that calls us to be aware of the challenges we face as individuals and as a society and inspires us to find our place in becoming a part of the solution.
Considering the moments of inspiration within my own life, more often than not my deepest experiences have been with music. When I work, when I play, and when I dream, there’s often a groove on repeat play speaking to my heart. Amidst the groove of this soundtrack, I dance and sing along but I also listen while the spirit of song connects with my innate desire to connect my hopes with my actions. Check out part of my soundtrack for "Write to Bear Alms" - it plays powerfully in my head! (You’re welcome to sing along…)
“Love’s in Need of Love Today” by Stevie Wonder: “Here's your friendly announcer...I have serious news to pass on to every-body… Love's in need of love today. Don't delay. Send yours in right away. Hate's goin' round, breaking many hearts. Stop it please. Before it's gone too far…” This literally pulls the goodness out of me. I’m not typically the most expressive person, but this song pushes me beyond the limitations of my normally introspective nature and shyness to encourage others to fight for and protect that which is most dear to their hearts with the tools of compassion and love.
“A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke: “It's been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change gon' come, oh yes it will…” I remember hearing this song while watching one of the most memorable scenes from Spike Lee’s 1992 film, Malcolm X. Whenever I hear this song, I feel the legacy of the fight for justice and equity deep in my bones. Until people no longer suffer as a result of issues like poverty, police brutality, violence, and racism, advocacy will be needed. It’s a long and arduous fight but this song reminds me of the work of those who came before me and that I can’t give up, no matter what.
“Fly” by Lina: “Another chance is what every day is… Let go of everything blocking your view so you can see the good in everything. Come on and Fly…When you’re up above it all … then you have a better view” Ahhh, sweet, sweet perspective. I put on my dancing shoes and focus on the goal of simply doing my part to make the world a better place and not getting distracted by fear, conflict, and roadblocks. Yes, life can be hard and everyone is not going to “get it” but you’ve got to keep giving your voice, your insight and your light. Your contributions are valuable!
“I Am” by Lina: “I love where I've been. I would do it all again if in the end makes me the woman I am…Keep on breaking down the walls. Keep on, keep on standing tall. Keep on settin' the people free.”Yes, Lina gets a lot of play by me. “I Am” reminds me of the importance of sharing our stories. Hey at times, I’ve been bullied, treated unfairly, and deceived. I’ve also been loved, encouraged and given opportunities. It is the scope of these experiences that show me the value of the connection between my own story and the lives of others. Yes, my failures and victories give me unique assets that can be used for service to mankind. They also strengthen my personal resolve to stay true to my convictions and my cause. (I think I just felt my philanthropy swagger kick in!)
“There’s Hope” by India Arie: “There’s hope. It doesn’t cost a thing to smile. You don’t have to pay to laugh. You better thank God for that” Gratitude is so important. Sometimes it’s hard to see past some of the ugliness and suffering that exists within our world and as a result we become paralyzed by depression, anxiety and frustration. It can be even harder to have a spirit of hope and gratitude in the face of this. It sometimes takes work to see life’s blessings. Gratitude gets us off of the hamster wheel of negativity and helps us to see the possibilities of what can happen if we channel our energies with deliberate, thoughtful purpose.
“What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong: “I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” One thing I’ve noticed about abuse and oppression is that they can attack the positivity and light in us, thereby limiting the possibilities we see for our lives. This happens on an interpersonal level and societal level and often times in very systemic ways. Write to Bear Alms is my response to this. As I promote purposeful giving, I wish to empower you to confront oppression, in whatever form it exists to cultivate positive change and experience the best that life has to offer.
As I consider my own experience with music and how it intersects with my voice as a philanthropy and volunteerism advocate, I must acknowledge that music as an art form is a critical element to my cause. It motivates me and compels me to dream, share my story, reflect and heal, be grateful, confront wrong, and act.
Thank you for sharing the giving groove with me, and tuning in to my Write to Bear Alms Soundtrack!