This week, it felt like our world was coming apart. The contract between those in power and communities of color was violated brutally, publicly, and with what seemed like very little justice. Portland is still experiencing daily protests, some are violent, others are peaceful, making it hard to know how to have our voices heard safely. 

Whatever your political leaning, no one can watch that video of George Floyd being murdered and not feel disgusted. The murder of anyone is despicable, but the consistent targeting of black people brings us back to times in our country’s history most of us would rather forget. 

In the wake of the tragic killings of Ahmaud Arbery (for going for a jog), Breonna Taylor (asleep in her own bed), George Floyd (for being suspected of possessing a counterfeit currency) and countless others, the Tigard Ukulele Group stands in solidarity with the Black community against police brutality and systemic racism.

While this news is disturbing to many of us now, daily fear of this type of treatment by the police is the reality for many Americans and has been the case for a long long time. I can remember the beating and trial of Rodney King, and the subsequent riots when I was 14. I was a freshman at an inner-city high school and our students took to the streets. This type of injustice targeted at blacks, sadly, is nothing new.

Music is what brings us together on our Sunday jams. There isn’t a single genre of music we sing that hasn’t been directly influenced by African American culture. Not one. American music is Black music, is our music, is the music of pain and joy, is the music of courage and loss, is the music of our lives. Music is how the oppressed are heard, through voice, words, melody, harmony, and community. 

We stand, as Americans, with our Black brothers and sisters and demand fairness, justice, and change. May the time we spend together making music bring joy and healing to the world, comfort the grief and hopelessness we feel, and unite us as a nation, the first multi-cultural democracy this world has ever seen. It is not the job of the minority to educate the majority. It is not black people’s job to educate white people about what is happening. If you want to know why this issue matters to all Americans, Watch This

Today, we sing happy songs to comfort our souls. We sing sad songs to support each other. The harder life is, the harder we dance. I want to invite you to share a song with us today, use our time together to have your voice heard. I want to remind you of something Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” 

Today, I ask that you to donate $10 to the Coalition of Communities of Color:

And we are committed, as a group, to do better at attracting members of color and making them feel welcome. I know we can do better and I welcome your comments and feedback. Please feel free to reply to this email and share your mind with us. 

In the spirit of Aloha, thank you,