...A quick drive past some SUSPICIOUS military activity, beautiful mountains and an infinite Pacific horizon. UCSD is on the outskirts of San Diego just off the Golden State Freeway. I drove down to meet with Professor Bennetta Jules-Rosette and talk about Parcours, Paris, and Josephine Baker.
As soon as I pulled onto campus the Tar Heel in me thought, "I mean, this place is cool, but it's no Carolina..." Then, I parked in the visitor section of the Sociology Parking Structure, the top floor, but my car was shaded by a Solar Panel.
I was early and assumed that I would be able to flip through some Josephine Baker books in the building but when I asked a student where the library was located, I was directed to take a short walk to the main library. She described it as a Spaceship, friends and colleagues this was the UCSD Geisel Library.
JoRose snapped a photo of me speaking with Dr. Seuss regarding The Places I Have Gone, since receiving his classic book for my high school graduation. I also explained to the good Doctor, that I felt as though Parcours was affording me a new Graduation. One that would allow me to leave all Plan B's behind and move forward into the world being supported by my purpose and art.
I shared a meal with Professor Rosette and her assistant, Stephen who seemed to be on his own path to awakening and teaching the world. We talked about the magic of Paris, the Gateways of the City of Lights. I found out that my connection to Josephine Baker was similar to Professor Rosettes. She has written books about Josie, and Black Paris. Her alignment with the First Black International Superstar, is because she understands Josephines' struggle, her need to find a place where she is loved and appreciated.
Josephine like many Black American Artists and Intellectuals of her time (and today if you speak to JoRose) Long(ed) for a place where they were "judged for their" Art "not the color of their skin." Where what makes them different is Celebrated, but does not Separate them from their creative world. That they were not labeled a "Black" Painter, but just a Painter, with life stories that flavored their work, but that the work was in the same stream of their counterparts.
Professor Rosette solidified for me that the Universe put Josephine Baker on my radar, because there was a similar story to tell. As an artist outside of the mainstream stereotype, within, and without my culture, (being of Black American and Eastern European descent this is quite a triple entendre) if there was no space for me, but there was still a Fire in my Soul then I could make a way. That in the end JoRose could be celebrated as an example of the Triumph of the Human Spirit. That I could honor my Soul and Gifts, without compromising my morality and show others that it is possible.
One quote that I always loved about Josephine Baker is that she was:
"Undeniably, but not 'Untouchably' Beautiful."
My goal, with my bruises, late nights and early mornings, day jobs, two-a-day training and empty bank account is that one day someone may say of my art:
"She was Brilliant, but not 'Unattainably' so."
From my work, my dedication, my intelligence, my persistence, I want to do more than inspire a little girl like me to keep going. I want to be the spark that helps people of all walks of life find the light within themselves. I have no problem with God Souls seeing my work, my success and saying "Hell, if that girl can do it I can!"
That. Is. My. Goal.
So, Thank You Professor Rosette. Thank You Stephen. Thank You UCSD. You are blessings on my path, and I do hope to take you up on your offer and bring Parcours to UCSD to share this story with your student body. I do believe from what I saw, they will appreciate the message, and I can only hope to return some of the magic that I received on your campus back to your population.
I Love You.