“The summation of my life and what I do is not based on my color or who I lay down with at night.”
“We as people get so used to sheltering ourselves in our own values and morals or our own communities that we're not able to meet people halfway. Whether that be culturally, linguistically, artistically, politically; it's just understanding that we're not going to be side by side, stride by stride, all the time.
My career in music has taught me how to meet people halfway. I'm very active in the arts community [in Indianapolis]. I'm a musician—mainly jazz saxophone—[as well as] a composer, arranger, artistic programmer, and curator.
While growing as a musician, I realized there's a lot of individuals of different egos, races and genders playing. I realized the importance of building off of the common ground—off of our strengths instead of our weaknesses. The goal as a band, and as a band leader, is to produce that we
are unified to an audience.
The majority of parts in the world in general are lacking an understanding of compassion and empathy…separately, and in tandem. We lack the understanding that I owe them at least the respect of recognizing them as existing and navigating [life] the same way that I am navigating this life here.
I was always raised to identify with and be proud of being black. My parents were very deliberate about teaching [my siblings and me] about mutual respect and differences in backgrounds. They grew up in the civil rights era, my grandparents grew up during Jim Crow, my great great grandparents are one generation away from slavery…we [understand] we are seen immediately just for our race.
My sexuality took much longer. I wasn't able to really be proud of myself as a complete, holistic individual until I was probably like, 23 or 24…It was about that unconditional love for myself—and if you can love yourself for being black, then you can love yourself for being gay.
You have to know and be confident in what it is that you bring to the table. We don't aim for perfection, we aim for better. Perfection is the biggest illusion on this planet.
You used to be here. You're five steps ahead of that. Celebrate that you're not done. But give yourself some grace to celebrate moving five steps ahead of where you [were], and then start planning the five steps of where you want to be from that point.
This world is so difficult. This world is so mean and unforgiving and it will chew you up if you don't make the small things that make you happy, enormous to you. …
Little things aren't little when they give you peace.
- Jared Thompson