Updated: Oct 15, 2019
The difficult I’ll do right now. The impossible will take a little while.”
- from the Billie Holiday song “Crazy He Calls Me”
The idea of bringing together refugees and friends in a welcoming community seemed a simple idea when we began the Tacoma Refugee Choir three years ago. I naïvely assumed that people would automatically be drawn together and that music would heal hearts and easily resolve the issues that so often keep us in our own separate bubbles.
The reality has been far from simple. It has been really, really hard. And there have been lots of tears when things haven’t gone smoothly. At times, it has felt like we are failing and the hurdles impossible to cross. In those moments, I have questioned why we have fallen short and whether our goal of sustaining a consistently diverse choir of refugees, immigrants, and friends from all backgrounds is an impossible quest.
In truth, we are seeking to do something that many do consider impossible. American society is more fragmented than ever and the rhetoric of hate and exclusion is at a fever pitch. Coming together is hard. Creating an equitable space where everyone’s voice is heard is even harder. Doing it on a weekly basis seems almost impossible.
And yet, every time I hear of how the choir has positively impacted someone’s life, I know that this work is not in vain. There is a lot of reason to hope. I only need to look into the eyes of Nathalie and Kimsang and Sean and Mariia and Adenike and many others to know that the future is bright if we only continue working together.
So often we overestimate what can be done in the short term and get discouraged because the world wasn’t changed by one action. However, we also often underestimate what can be done over the long term if we just keep going.
While we aspire to conquer the seemingly impossible task of bringing together a deeply diverse choir that equally serves all its members with love, hope and unconditional belonging and represents those aims in every performance, the journey of reaching that goal is going to take a little while. Until then, we are going to keep doing the difficult task of showing up, loving others unconditionally and encouraging all to join us in this journey of hope. As a Billie Holiday song says, “The difficult I’ll do right now. The impossible will take a little while.”
Written By: Erin Guinup, Founder of Tacoma Refugee Choir