Yesterday was surprising in a wonderful way. The entire country celebrated Juneteenth together. CLICK HERE to understand what Juneteenth is. Seeing so many beautiful, Black, smiling faces venerating the ancestors on social media timelines (because I’m still very much social distancing #SafeAtHome) was inspiring, self-affirming and breathtaking.
Here’s the thing that stands out to me... when we honor those that came together to create us, we honor ourselves. And when we honor ourselves, we empower ourselves. And with the kind of power we generated yesterday (and will hopefully continue to generate) we WILL change the world.
This is not to say that we’ve officially arrived. I think we all know that Black people are a long LONG way from where we want to be as a people in this country (and this world, for that matter) but the thing that stood out to me the most was our recognizing those who have gotten us this far. If you read the blog posts, you know one of my favorite sayings is “what you appreciate, appreciates” and yesterday we appreciated our freedom. I just... ksksksksksksksks...!!! I mean!!! Guys!
One of the things that bothers me as a filmmaker is when I hear people complain about “slave” movies. As if the three or four movies that Hollywood managed to painstakingly squeeze out over the past few decades were just too many (meanwhile, there’s a million and five World War II movies... but I digress). It always bothered me because it felt like no one wanted to know about Black American history and what’s worse... they were ashamed of it. “We’ve done more than that” or “We’ve done more since that.” I’ve always thought, ‘yes, but slavery was also a really significant part of our reality in this country and it was no small thing’ My thinking has always been that it’s important for us to know and tell these stories because it speaks to the strength of who we are today. What we’re capable of due to what we survived. The immunities we developed while - quite literally - being warriors, for generations. As well as the harmful coping mechanisms that we picked up and passed along, that need to be broken. Our origins in this country is quite literally a blueprint for how to overcome oppression in the world.
That said, I hope that for every Black American person reading this that yesterday allowed you to focus - for maybe just a moment - on the wisdom of your ancestors. Love them. Love yourself. And recognize that they built this country for YOU. It is yours to take with both hands. And you are so worthy.