This week, I was terribly saddened by the death of Ed Bradley and then today of Gerald Levert. For me, Ed Bradley was the best part of the bland 60 Minutes. He stayed handsome throughout his life and I loved the way he rocked that earring. Gerald Levert was a big teddy bear with a beautiful voice. I remember being a little girl dancing to some of his hits with Levert, the group he formed with his brother and cousin back in the 80s.
But in my office this week, you'd think I was the only one who cared about these deaths. One of my friends emailed me Thursday and told me that Ed Bradley died from leukemia. I was shocked because I didn't even know he was sick and again, he was the best part of that boring CBS show. I had a moment of silence at my desk and pressed on, 'cause that's what I do. For whatever reason, I didn't tell my coworkers the news. I don't know why, maybe in the back of my mind I thought that they wouldn't care about the death of a black newsman.
It didn't take long for the news to spread and soon, everyone in our little department was coming up to me, asking if I knew that Ed Bradley died. They would come across the room and talk to me about it, as if the death of this black man didn't matter to anyone but me, the only black person in the office. "He was such a good man," one lady said to me. "And a good journalist. I trusted him. I really did." But later that night, this trusted man's death didn't even lead the 11 o'clock news. I mean, it's not like he was Britney Spears, ending a marriage via text message. Now that's news.
Another friend emailed me today about Gerald Levert and I was just as saddened. I needed to share this info with someone, but I knew none of my white colleagues listened to R&B. But then there's Anna. Anna is white, but she lives with her black boyfriend. She must've seen too many 'hood flicks because she uses them as fodder in her daily imitation of a stereotypical black woman. Yet her delivery makes her look more like Buckwild from Flavor of Love. Anna once told me that she loved my baby locks and asked me what I would think if she got her hair cornrowed. All I could think of was Bo Derek in "10", and told her that she should do what she wants.
Anyway, I sent Anna an i.m.:
Me: Do you remember Gerald Levert?
Anna: Hell yeah, girl
Me: He's dead! Had a heart attack.
Anna jumps up from her computer, eyes crazed. "Are you serious?? Can ya'll believe this? GERALD LEVERT IS DEAD!!" Everyone else looked around and gave a collective, "who?"
Anna looked around the room like she was staring at BooBoo the Fool. "Ya'll can't be serious up in this piece! Gerald Levert -- Eddie Levert's son!!"
Sean, another coworker, was perplexed. "I'm sorry. Were they friends of yours?"
"They're singers," I said. "Eddie sang with the O'Jays and Gerald was his son."
"Doesn't sound familiar," Sean said. "Can you sing a song?"
Against my better judgment, Anna and I did a duet of Levert's 1986 hit, "Casanova." We were off key and all we knew was the chorus. Sean later said he knew the song, but neither one of us believed him. Anna went back to her desk and made a series of calls where she screeched, "Gerald Levert is dead! Gerald Levert is dead!"
Later, I saw her outside smoking a cigarette and holding her cell phone, presumably telling someone else about Gerald's death. "Yo, I can't even believe these people," Anna said. "How can you not know who Gerald Levert is?!"
"Damn shame," Anna said. "Damn shame."
Update: Upon checking my newspaper on Saturday, I see that Gerald's death is on page 6B, sans photo. There's no mention of it at all on the website.