Yesterday brought the passing of the third iconic African American figure in this short month. For those who don’t really know me, the effects of the passing of Whitney Houston may not be as easy to understand from my viewpoint at first glance. She was an artist that sold over 145 million albums and 85 million singles, so yes it’s quite easy to feel that her passing is only being heightened by some based on her superstar status. Younger music listeners may only remember Whitney’s music career around the release of “Heartbreak Hotel”, “My Love Is Your Love” but remember her best for her very public struggles with drug addiction, the infamous “Crack is wack” Diane Sawyer interview and her appearances on “Being Bobby Brown” and honestly that’s fair too in my opinion. A lot of people don’t take the time to understand why someone was held with such a high regard in their glory days and only focus on the present status and troubles. The most I ask is that you do your own research and understand why she is idolized by many of today’s vocalists.
The death of Whitney Houston hit me more on a human element than anything, beyond the music, beyond the controversy. On Twitter last night, the usual “let’s make jokes for shock value” crowd were out and I snapped. I honestly don’t even remember typing the things I did, I just knew they were being said. The disrespect bothered me, but it wasn’t unexpected at all. I’m very much desensitized from everything by now, so the “_____ is gone, our nigga dead” Kanye lyric reference, and comments such as “when was the last time you played _____’s music” don’t really mean much to me anymore. It’s pretty much the norm whenever someone who is not in heavy rotation right at that moment passes. The root of my rant actually were from deeper, more personal and identifiable reasons. I simply have a lack of tolerance for jokes involving the death of ANYONE and also jokes mocking people for their addictions. I am an actual witness to not only one of my closest friends still mourning the loss of their mother, but also seeing the destructive nature drug and alcohol addictions have first hand, from family to associates. Hell, I’ll even admit myself that at times I wonder if I drink too much, and what damage to my own body and mind am I causing, along with the circumstances I have placed myself in by not knowing when to stop. I have made a conscious choice to limit my own drinking, hopefully completely by this summer based on my last drunken experiences earlier this year and last summer. Seeing these things and honestly wrestling with my own personal thoughts makes it very hard for me to laugh when others are suffering from this. While no cause of death has been determined as of yet, most people will unfairly allude to these factors as the reason her life was cut short at an early age. To me CNN made that clear last night by asking Dr. Drew his opinion on her death.
I send my condolences out to her daughter Bobbi Kristina, who has reportedly been rushed to the hospital today. She is only 18 years old and is the only child of Whitney. I can’t even imagine what she is going through, especially knowing what my friend who is a lot older is still dealing with today with a large support system. I also feel for her ex-husband Bobby Brown, who some people feel brought Whitney’s life down and “jokingly” stated things like, “why he is still alive and not her”. Yes, those were extremely tasteless and unfair comments I have actually seen. I can’t imagine the pain he is going through also, and the scrutiny of the public eye he will further deal with. As for me, I’ll remember Whitney as not just a superstar R&B singer and Pop icon, but reluctantly as a person whose battles with addiction may have derailed a career that could even have been more stellar. I remember her not only for being that great voice that sung the hell out of the Star Spangled Banner among other things, but for also being the barometer aspiring artists would aim for while auditioning for talent shows. Everyone knew if you could successfully pull off “I Will Always Love You”, you were likely winning the entire thing. There will never be another artist like her, and what she went through only showed she was human with some weaknesses, just like all of us. I just hope to the people necessary it was the wake-up call needed, including myself.