Sometimes you come across something that makes you feel good about how diverse and culturally rich our country really is. Something that gives a different picture of life in America than you are liable to see on the evening news. How about a fifteen year old black kid from Oakland who sings Chinese opera in perfect Mandarin? His name is Tyler Thompson. He doesn't speak more than basic Chinese, but he's doggone good when it comes to singing it in the incredibly difficult world of Chinese opera.
China plays a big part in White Jade, one of my thrillers. But the real deal is in real life. I learned about Tyler from an AP article by Terence Shea that appeared in July of this year. Tyler studies in Sherlyn Chew's Purple Silk Music Education Program, which teaches Chinese music to the children of mostly low income, immigrant families. Tyler blew them away in China when Chinese Central Television broadcast his show from San Jose. Tyler says: "The music is very beautiful and it's very passionate. You can hear it when it's being played." If you have ever seen a Chinese opera, you know he's right. Art transcends language, customs and the idiocy of governments. Culture is a universal, human gift we give to each other. All we have to do is open our eyes and our hearts and let it in.