Yesterday was one of those days. You know what I’m talking about, the kind of day where all normal routines seems to go haywire. My thirty minute commute with Harper turned into a three hour journey through the congested roadways of Fairfield County. The rain as well as the reckless driving of frustrated truckers weaving in and out of already cramped road space left me on high alert and anxious. “Here we go”, I thought as the sounds of white noise did nothing to soothe a baby whom gives you thirty minutes in a car seat before he himself begins to fuss.
I remember releasing a huge exhale as I found myself finally in my office and deeply engaged in work as my colleague and fellow understanding mother worked harmoniously through necessary projects. Although we worked remotely from each other we were synchronized-our time was used efficiently as we navigated a new way to work. My day seemed to be looking up-I kept abreast to random news alerts that popped up periodically on my phone.
I listened to reports about how other nations like Germany were responding to the economic upheaval COVID 19 is having not just in Germany but other smaller and less financially stable European nations. I noted the online discussions around the uptake in gun violence in urban spaces like Brooklyn, Bridgeport and New Haven and swallowed in disgust when critics pointed to black on black crime as a retort to police brutality or reasons why defunding of the police is not a (one of many) solution that should be supported as a result of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
All these things swirled in the background as I moved throughout my day. I thought of the many lives impacted by Covid and how during a pandemic people of color are continuing the good fight for social justice and how the world is having this conversation around race, justice and equality (this is a conversation people of color have been engaged in forever). The murder of George Floyd has catapulted this conversation on the forefront of the world. Running parallel to this dialogue (and hopefully intentional and systematic change) the conversation about the stories of people of color are being discussed.
Viola Davis, a prolific actor in her own right, has expressed regret in the role she played in the film The Help. Films viewed as cinematic classics have been removed from some platforms like Gone with the Wind or are now being shown with a new introduction based on a more critical lens as it relates to America’s complex history on race.
The dynamic dialogue happening right now has forced many creatives to examine how our stories are being told. Whom has the final say on how our stories are presented? The image we share with the world impacts often how the world sees us. Now many may argue that it doesn’t matter how the world views us and rather all that matter is how we view ourselves.
However, I push back on this narrative. Many people are not able to always recognize entertainment as simply entertainment. The caricature of black women and black men, when limited in scope creates a narrow lens on what it means to be black in this world.
This narrow lens may sometimes create a false narrative to non black and even black audiences whom may brush off our humanity. And as long as we are not living in a world isolated from other races it is necessary for the world to recognize our humanity -for if they did a sworn officer of the law would not have felt justified in suffocating Mr. Floyd with his knee on his neck in broad daylight!
This is our story to tell.
Aside from unequal pay in the entertainment industry and as a woman of color, Viola recognizes the importance of the work she puts out into the world and she’s not alone.
Tamar Braxton, a very different woman of color compared to Viola ( I love this juxtaposition because it clearly highlights how diverse black people can be) has also been grappling with the story being told and the narrative of the black family/black woman that’s being pushed. Tamar has been very vocal about how she’s being represented in the public.
Her outright refusal to continue to have social media conflict with other women of color and her desire to share a different story has been an agenda she’s shared on countless Zoom interviews on various media outlets as she prepares for the debut of not one but two reality shows.
Unfortunately, my day of crazy long commutes and news reports related to a world wide pandemic among conversations around race and social justice became even more disheartening when I learned of what many media outlets are reporting as an alleged suicide attempt by Tamar Braxton. The overwhelming desire to have more control over the stories that’s being told allegedly sent her down a dark rabbit hole of wanting to no longer be here.
The impact on COVID-19 alone has pushed many passed what one may deem as a healthy mental state. Even if you’re fortunate to not have been personally impacted by family deaths or loss of employment-the isolation alone has really challenged many as it relates to ones mental health. Add a layer of continued racial injustice and BAM we have a perfect storm.
Let us continue to take those deep breaths, get plenty of fresh air, exercise, and reach out (even virtually) for real life connections. Do not hesitate in getting professional help when you’re seeking an outlet to express feelings of overwhelmingness or sadness. It’s ok to ask for help. We got this.