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Ray Charles, who is often referred to as ‘The High Priest of Soul,’ faced many limitations as a result of becoming completely blind at an early age. To try to understand the challenges he endured during his career in the Civil Rights era, I made the decision to wear blackface for a whole day.  

Almost immediately, I felt like I could understand what he went through. As soon as I woke up and walked downstairs to my kitchen, I started to imagine how difficult basic tasks must be if you are blind, once again, showing how committed Ray Charles was to breaking societal norms.

True to form of the great soul musician Ray Charles, I sat down on the piano bench. I was baffled as to how he was able to memorize each and every note on the piano as I was having quite some difficulty doing it as someone with full use of my vision.

Only when I made my way into the public eye, however, was I able to fully grasp real struggles the great soul musician Ray Charles went through. Virtually every person I even came close to gave me the worst of looks and I struggled to maintain my composure. Perhaps the great soul musician Ray Charles was able to keep his cool on account of him not being able to see the same looks I was getting on the streets. What a humble performer!

Throughout my entire day, everyone I encountered criticized me for trying to understand the struggle of one of the world’s most renowned musicians. Ray Charles faced a similar criticism from people telling him he could never make it as a blind performer. Yet, Ray preserved to achieve great success and have a legendary impact on music, civil rights, and blindness awareness. Today, I felt the same success he did, making an impact for the better.