I ran across an article by Angela Davis called ” I Used to Be Your Sweet Mama: Ideology, Sexuality, and Domesticity”. It had to do with the birth of the blues. Now, i like the blues, but I am not really an expert.
She had a really interesting theory about the evolution of the blues. Basically, it is an African American art form, and it grew up after the slaves were emancipated. Prior to emancipation, African Americans sang in groups, because they never really had a place for the solo performer.
When freedom came, the soloist had a place to perform, and people had a place to congregate to listen. Apparently, the earliest blues singers were women; she names Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Goodson, and some others. But the part that really grabs me is the subject matter.
One of the major freedoms granted with the release from slavery was the freedom to MOVE. If you are enslaved, you cannot go anywhere of your own free will. When you are your own person, you can go anywhere you want.
So traveling was sung about; it continues to be subject matter for the blues. “Movin’ on.” I am so excited to see that a historical event, which created new possibilities for travel, revealed itself in an emerging art form.
It gives me new insight into what traveling means to me. Being able to travel is an ultimate expression of freedom. When I am uncertain about where my life is headed or what is in store for me around the bend, I often comfort myself with the idea that I could just get up and go to any place I wanted.
I keep my passport current for that reason.
It’s not so much that I WOULD, it’s just that I COULD.
It is a form of power. Having a plan. These women who sang and made a new music called the blues knew they had a backdoor; they could leave. Sometimes knowing that makes all the difference. Because when you stay it’s your choice. And if it gets bad enough, you know that you can pull the ripcord, hit eject, GET OUT.
It gave her the power again. Being able to travel meant that she was the one in control.
And that can make all the difference.