Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … The Sound Of Freedom

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I still can't get over that LinkedIn post that you sent me about Louis Armstrong. I almost put it on my pile of things to "read later" as I'm not a huge fan of jazz, although I loved him in the movie "High Society" with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


I figured the subject line, "Connect these dots … Louis Armstrong," would pique your interest.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Well, it did. Although when I first started reading it, I couldn't figure out what a Jewish family who immigrated from Lithuania had to do with one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Hence the subject line. It is one thing to hire a young black boy to do odd jobs for your business, but that is very different from treating him as if he was your own child, making sure he was well-fed, and treating him with kindness and respect.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Just think about that. Today, a white family caring for a black child may be more common, but that was back in the early 1900s. It must have been almost unheard of and a brave thing to do.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


And that was on top of any discrimination the Karnofskys may have been experiencing for being Jewish. But they, of all people, would understand the importance of feeling "free" of the prejudice and stereotypes that prevent you from reaching your full potential.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I think for anyone to feel truly loved, nurtured, and accepted is a gift, but in those days, it must have felt like a miracle.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Is it a "gift" or should it be a "right"? Regardless, as if that was not enough, they also introduced Armstrong to music. Not only teaching him Russian and Jewish songs, but helping him buy his first musical instrument.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


It sounds like his life, when he was with them, was filled not only with love, but the power of music. I can't help but wonder if he'd have become one of the greatest musicians and composers with such a unique style and sound (both with his voice and his trumpet), if not for the Karnofskys.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


There is no way to know, but their impact on his life was significant enough that for years Armstrong would wear a Star of David around his neck to remind him of their kindness.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



But even if he hadn't "become" Louis Armstrong, I'd still like to believe he'd have had a better life because of them. I'm sure there are many other stories like his, we just don't know about them.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



I am surprised you did not mention Michael Oher and the movie "The Blind Side," especially since we are a storytelling society, and once you hear these stories, it is hard to forget them.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



No kidding. I've always known that sometimes very simple things can make a huge difference in another person's life, but I never really thought about the power of giving someone the "freedom" to be something more.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Freedom is often taken for granted by those that have it, while prized and fought for by those who do not. But, I am not sure that you can just "give" someone true freedom, as I do not think you are talking about civil rights issues.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



I'm not talking literally. I'm talking in terms of confidence, of opportunities, of not feeling restrained by stereotypes or misconceptions. I think, and I never realized it before reading about Louis Armstrong, how by being appreciated and respected for who you are and given opportunities that others might take for granted – your life can become something truly wonderful. And very different from what it might have been.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Yes, it can. Now, imagine if everyone had the right to pursue their potential. But, was that not what the Founding Fathers were thinking when they drafted the Declaration of Independence? When they wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



It's funny. I was going to ask you what you thought we should talk about for our July column, as we always try to tie it to Independence Day. But I guess this fascinating story about Louis Armstrong couldn't be more perfect.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Not to mention, he celebrated July 4th as his birthday.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



Seriously?!


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Yes, although after his death, it was discovered that his actual birthday was August 4.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io



Do you think it was intentional, or did he genuinely believe he was born on July 4th?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io



Or, maybe it was his way of celebrating his independence.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
Keep Reading ...Show less
Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

Keep Reading ...Show less
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
Keep Reading ...Show less