In light of the news of the passing of Whitney Houston, I started to reflect on the pressure she must have felt to be the best and always stay on top. I started to reflect on our unhealthy obsession with celebrity’s lives and the pressure we put on them. When someone passes, the first thing we do is look for someone to blame. We ask, what could we have done differently? Did we do enough to save her? It was Bobby’s fault! Yea, that’s it. Or, it was the yes-men that surrounded her. They should have snatched the drink out of her hand. The real truth is that celebrities like, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Don Cornelius are ultimately responsible for their own lives.
Yet, even with knowing this truth, their death still hurts because we can all relate to the process of dealing with our issues. It’s that “process,” I feel many celebrities are robbed of through pressure from the media, pressure to put on a good show, the pressure that naturally comes with aging, etc. Fast success mixed with deep soul issues is a recipe for disaster. The praise, the accolades only mask the pain deep down inside. When the applause stops and everyone goes home you are left alone with just you and the demons that hunt you. The pressure of mega-success and super-stardom can sometimes be too much for a human being to handle.
Where I feel celebrities, and people in general, go wrong is that our craft cannot be who we are. Our talent is just an extension of who we are, not who we are. I’m not a celebrity, but as an artist I can relate to the anxiety that celebrities must feel to perform and be the best. If I have a bad design or the client doesn’t like my idea, I have learned (and still learning) not to internalize those negative feelings. I take no credit in myself, but it is the grace of God. Believe what you want, but there is no denying that you must be connected to something deeper than yourself in order to handle the pressures of life. Whitney, Michael and Don remind us not to carry around our pain and to take time for inner healing.
Another thing I reflect on is, “man, why did Whitney and Don have to die in such a tragic way during Black History Month?” Someone on Twitter said, “Black History is cancelled this month.” I don’t buy that. These legends, icons of our generation are gone, but never forgotten. We must not forget the lessons they taught us. Whitney and Michael taught us to perfect our craft. Sure, they had raw talent, but no one can ever say that they did not put in blood, sweat and tears to be the best. Don taught us to be innovators and savvy business people. He taught us to find a void (under representation of Black music and images in media and advertising) and fill that void. Don taught us to be the change you want to create. Lastly, they remind us that we are human beings, fragile and yet resilient, weak and yet powerful beyond belief. So be encouraged and know your greatness.
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