“A Vision for Our Lives” (Music Video)
By Maurice Lajuane Harris
The following article is an excerpt/adaptation from the documentary “A Vision for Our Lives [The Design] Thinking Behind the Song”.
My husband and I had just relocated from Ohio to Vermont for my new job as Diocesan Communications Minister for the Episcopal Church in Vermont, and we had been here only about two months before my mother-in-law from Thailand came to visit. She had come at the perfect time of year. The leaves were turning the most amazing colors on the trees. We took ma to a popular outdoor destination, but in order for us to tour the property, we needed to purchase passes at the gift shop. I walk into the shop, and it doesn’t escape my notice that I’m the only person of color there. But that’s not so unusual. After all, Vermont’s racial makeup is about 95% white. So, the clerk served all the customers in line ahead of me, but when I stepped up to the counter, she closed the till, walked to the opposite end of the shop, and started folding a pile of t-shirts as if I didn’t even exist. Now hold that thought, and let’s fast forward to earlier this year. My husband and I went to our favorite movie theater in New Hampshire and a very similar incident occurred. The white man at the counter served all the white customers but when my husband and I walked up to buy our tickets, he stepped back and simply ignored us. His co-worker at the snack station, asked him – “Don’t you see you have customers in front of you?” He shrugged it off and just stood there, as if eventually we’d just disappear. So, she stepped over and sold us the tickets.
And I know what some of you may be thinking, because a few brave souls have actually said it aloud: You’re not even that black. And I have a couple of responses to that. The first one is this: Black comes in many shades, and I’ve worked hard to succeed in systems that were originally designed to hold back my family, my friends, and me. The second response, and the most important one is this: Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. Period.
As I started to talking to other people of color in rural, New England towns, I was hearing a lot of the same hidden stories of indignity that I had heard or experienced locally and when I’d lived in urban settings throughout the United States. So, it’s easy for me to empathize with Black people across the spectrum who are making their voices heard. The Movement for Black Lives Platform really is a Vision for Our Lives.
“A Vision for Our Lives” is intended for use both as a teaching tool around the Movement for Black Lives Platform and as a protest song in anti-racism demonstrations.
Last fall, as part of my doctoral work in social change, I wanted to do something grounded in scholarship, with a real-world application, that was connected to the Movement for Black Lives. The result is the song, “A Vision for Our Lives” (released under my pen name, Ionne), which is intended for use both as a teaching tool around the Movement for Black Lives Platform and as a protest song in anti-racism demonstrations. Incidentally, the instrumental version of “A Vision for Our Lives” is the opening theme for season 1 of the “Where Do We Go from Here?” racial reconciliation video series.