Lately I’ve been listening to Esther Satterfield’s haunting vocals on “The Land of Make-Believe,” a tune written by Chuck Mangione. Satterfield delivers Mangione’s song smoothly and with appropriate wit. Flugelhorn and reed solos add to the pleasure of this 12-minute recording.
I don’t know what inspired Mangione to write this piece, but I like it very much.
When you’re feeling down and out
Wondering what this world’s about
I know a place that has the answer.
It’s a place where no one dies.
It’s a land where no one cries.
And good vibrations always
The song refers to childhood stories and includes the line, “Seven dwarves and Little Boy Blue, Uncle Remus and Snow White too.” and then comes the stinger–“Now that’s integration.”
I keep thinking about this land of make-believe in light of current reality. By the time we finish receiving all the reports about the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, we’ll probably have as many “facts” as the Warren Commission’s report on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and we will still have questions unanswered. We will grieve the loss of yet another life and wonder what might have been. ISIS and needs of the Middle East and Asia Minor are for other days.
We’ve made believe for too long about too many facets of life in the United States and our problems may differ from cultural problems in other nations. One misperception is that all people have equal rights and equal opportunities. When I was much younger, I was asked—sometimes politely, sometimes not so politely—if I happened to be an African-American passing as a Caucasian. People, in their ignorance of history and geography, thought I invented being of Armenian descent. I still experienced opportunities that others, because of their backgrounds, did not receive. I saw others with lesser ability receive opportunities because their backgrounds contained far more privilege than my own. A simple outline of make-believe and privilege.
It’s a pleasant land, this land of make-believe, but moving toward our vision of justice is painful.