Loving

9.17.2016


Have you heard about the film Loving yet?



I had just one word when the film ended: simplicity.

My brain refused to quiet. I kept thinking how unbelievably, beautifully simplistic Loving was and how thankful I was that someone was finally sharing this oh-so extraordinary story with the world.

I find it so sad that so many aren't aware of the Loving Family and what their love did for us all. As one gentleman pointed out, "History is forgotten too soon".

In case you've missed the trailers, Loving is the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving: the interracial couple who's landmark case, Loving vs Virginia, invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Basically it's the case that kept parents like mine from ending up in jail.

Y'all I can't praise this film enough. Emotionally, it broke me down but it was done so gently that I wasn't aware that I had tears streaming down until the lights came up. I struggle to find the words for how delicate this story was. The pacing...the tone. It's as if they took sweet Mildred's soul and somehow made a blanket and covered the whole script with her essence...her demeanor and spirit. The first line of the film and the very last scene... I love the thoughtful intentions we were all allowed and expected to feel throughout the film.

What Loving did right:


  • There was no white savior. (Thank God.) Instead we see Mildred and Richard save themselves.

  • It was honest. There was no Hollywood glaze sopped all over the story. Jeff Nichols, the writer, did an amazing job of letting these people be who they were. Their love, their reservations with publicity, their fears, their strengths... he allowed it all to be included and he did so with integrity and respect. Their humanity was allowed to breath and itt was done so with such subtlety and care.  They were able to capture so much... 

  • It was fair and balanced. We're able to see the grey areas brilliantly. Themes dealing with isolation and otherness aren't ignored. You're privy to their families' reservations but also their support. Race and privilege aren't skimmed over. We see how their community responded, the mistreatments they bared, the fears they lived with and most importantly what that kind of injustice looked like and what it felt like without all of the horrendous spirit breaking techniques some other films have used in the past. (My favorite example: The N word was only used once. ONCE! Yet you're still able to grasp the unjust hell they live in. Imagine that.) Bravo, storytellers. Bravo! 


I had the opportunity to see this film because of an amazing sister friend of mine, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni along with an organization she's a co-director at called Mixed Roots Stories.  I love organizations that create opportunities for our communities to come together to discuss, share and grow. The Q&A after the film was thought provoking. One man shared how his parents had done the very same thing the Lovings were forced to do in order to legalize their marriage. He wept because it offered him an opportunity to see his parents' story. Another gentleman shared the relevant parallels this story has with gay rights and the conversations we're still having regarding marriage equality. One South Asian mother told us her family had stopped talking to her for ten years when she married a black man.

I felt like I had come home. It was the conversation I needed to be a part of. You know I'm about to get super duper involved with Mixed Roots Stories now, right?

You must see this film. With #OscarsSoWhite and the obvious dangers of a single story it's imperative that we support films like this. If this movie does anything it will prove that sharing our simple stories leads to complex and wonderful change.

The Q&A ended with a powerful question: In a world bent on convincing us we're post-racial...a world that swears up and down that mixing will end the hate (that's a doozy of a statement we'll have to discuss in a different post) what role does love play in social change? I encourage you to see the film and then come back here and share your answer. I can't wait to discuss!

All the luv,

Tish



I came home and immediately wanted to find footage of the Lovings. I just love them soooo much.

The Cadbury Lion

9.16.2016


So I recently shared this with twitter:



We're not gonna discuss how my twitter page hears crickets way more than it hears the sounds little blue birds make when they love something. Y'all...I'm smelling something. It's a mix of mediocrity and disappointment and it's coming from my life.

When I was in the 2nd grade I remember watching the kids play and having this definitive moment. I watched a girl smoke a whole crew of boys in a race and I saw her greatness. I started seeing lots of kids' greatness and I developed a theory that everyone was really great at something; you just had to find out what your super talent was.

I started out strong. Teachers all through my educational journey praised and encouraged me. They enabled my little big fish/small pond ass. I was going to be great. I was going to be a leader. (Shout out to Mr. Older, Teresa Fernandez and Ms. Winters. You were the wind beneath my big fish wings.) Hell, my family had some woman read coffee beans and that woman said I was going to be this larger than life phenom who would command great audiences. No pressure, no pressure.

I've wanted to be an actor since I was four so I figured that's where my greatness would spring forth. I'd come to LA, struggle a tiny bit (just enough to make my mama cry during my Oscar speech) and then I'd take my seat upon the throne of excellence. Oprah was going to have me on her show and we'd have an Oprah moment that would involve her giving me the Oprah high five...

Exhibit 1


 Exhibit 2


She'd invite me to her Legends slumber parties and we'd be tight. When I wasn't filming something magically moving and uplifting I'd sit under her big tree and help her garden. It's what friends are for.

I've been in LA for eleven years now and I'm auditioning for dog breath commercials. I spent actual energy wondering if my disgust with Pipin the dog's breath was believable. Where did I go wrong?

I've been attempting to get back into writing just so I can feel like I'm doing something good...ish in my life. I applied for a writing grant and yesterday I submitted for a fellowship. After I hit the send button I started reading the bios of this year's fellowship writers and I immediately wanted to pull whatever magic plug I could to take back my dang submission. Those people are gonna laugh so hard at my mediocre butt.

I'm realizing it hella late but I never really became great at anything. I'm okay-ish at life. I'm an okay writer...an okay actor. Do okay people ever accomplish their dreams?! Shit. Don't answer that!

You know how that zombie in I Am Legend is hella pissed because Will Smith has just knocked his boo the hell out and he can't do a damn thing about it because he's allergic to light so he just stands there roaring like the lion from the Cadbury Easter Bunny commercial?




I am that zombie. I swear I'm allergic to that divine light all the hippies are talking about. You know the light I'm talking about, damn it. It's the light that Beyonce, Oprah, Ava, Shanda, Quinta, Gloria Steinem and Joanne the Scammer stand in. I'm allergic to it and I have no idea what to do. I see people standing in the light; doing the damn thing and I stand off to the side in the shadows wondering how in the hell they were able to do it.

I have no idea what I'm doing. Obviously, since I made it all official and tweeted it. Moment of that positive, hippie stuff, though: I plan to at least try to find my greatness. When I'm not slabbing butt paste on my daughter or gulping wine because a one year old has hurt my feelings I shall find my light.

I'm apparently a mediocre optimist too.


Texture , Candor and Heart: Queen Sugar’s Winning Recipe

9.07.2016

Annie Q. Syed’s definition of story is one I keep close to my heart. In her book Collection of Auguries she shines a light on society’s misconceived notions of intimacy:

“Showing is not sharing. A telling that stirs something within yourself and another is sharing. Just like slicing a thin layer of the cornea cannot be done without a slight flinching for the onlooker and the one on whom the eye surgery is performed, so is the case with truly sharing—both feel the pinch of a truth no matter how far removed.”

Cue the slow clap for Queen Sugar. I wasn’t prepared to be moved quite like I was. A pilot episode is supposed to be great. It’s supposed to be so compelling, so ripe with interesting character and plot that you’re hooked. Rarely have I ever watched a show that’s been able to slurp me in and swallow me whole.  I can no longer count how many times I’ve turned off the television and said, “Welp, it’ll get better in a couple of episodes.”

This pilot made no such mistakes. You shall find no hiccups. Just perfection. This is the kind of storytelling my soul has been longing for. The kind of story that demands a blanket, maybe something sweet to drink and your full, undivided attention. 

I swear it’s as if Ava somehow found the magic formula. The planets aligned. She got THE best writers, producers, actors…she got the best team PERIOD and created this crazy, beautiful show.

I already want to be Nova. I can’t wait to see how Charley and her beautiful MBA is able to help with her family’s farm woes. I’m rooting for Ralph Angel. I adore Blue. I love Hollywood and Aunt Violet’s love.  How were they able to develop these characters so quickly and so well?!  I’ve been waiting for these people! I’ve been waiting for THIS type of storytelling.

I can just taste the goodness to come. I can tell these writers were ready to give us something real...something textured. And they infused love into every last detail. There are no one-dimensional stories; everyone's deliciously complex.  Flaws are hinted at and I plan to slurp up that realness, too.  I’m addicted to the pinches.

Queen Sugar has me feeling some kind of wonderful something, y’all. (My Meshell Ndegeocello albums have come back out to play.)

Are you watching? If you don't have OWN, fear not! Mama Oprah showered mercy on us all. You can watch the show on her OWN TV app.


"There is a God."


Their Eyes Were Watching

9.06.2016

I've tried to start this post so many times. I've gotten entire paragraphs in and then deleted the whole and walked away too many times to count.

I need to get it off my chest. It needs to leave my body, in fact.

Basically I shared what was probably the hundredth story about police brutality on my facebook page. A friend decided it would be a good time to defend that tired ass blue lives matter trope and I clapped back.

And clapped.

And clapped.

And clapped some more. AND mentioned that my issues with police brutality did not mean I was anti police. It did not mean I thought her husband or my other friends who work for law enforcement agencies around the country are monsters. I'm annoyed I have to preface my disgust with that obnoxiously obvious caveat.

I'm even more annoyed that she unfriended me and then blocked me before we could discuss the issue like two rational friends. Because that's what we were. I am her children's godmother. Like me, they are biracial girls living with a white mother and a white stepfather. Back in the day this made our relationship highly special. They would have someone who could relate to them when they started to question. I was ready to be there.

She has made sure her children and family have blocked me as well. And let's be clear. She removed me from her life because I was enraged that two men were murdered.

Shortly after her block an unarmed black man who was simply protecting an autistic man was shot. Also an investigation looking at the Baltimore Police Department found a shocking number of seriously troubling and horrific examples of police brutality, racism and abuses of power. I'm curious how she responded to the news.

I've read articles stating we shouldn't remove people from our social media accounts...that we should embrace different opinions. I have deleted quite a few racists and ignorant, biased folk who I just don't have the time or energy for, but I wasn't ready to let go of this friend. Have we figured out how to get through to people who scream all lives matter? Are they lost causes? Is there a magic statement that helps them see what's going on? I don't know because she shut down that conversation before it ever truly could begin.

I usually start a conversation like the above with an offering...the cancer example is a good one, but this one Keith Powell offered up was pretty good, too:

Because you can’t fix a flat tire by talking about how great the engine is.

Or saying that everyone gets a flat tire.
Or saying “if you drove better, you wouldn’t get a flat tire.”
Or “Considering the amount you drive, that’s not a lot of flat tires.”

The tire is flat. It needs to be fixed. 

And to anyone who says the tire is not flat; anyone who contends there is no real issue, I say this: You are the problem.


But then the conversation takes a detour. Always. We have a problem. A HUGE ass, nasty no good problem and discussing the problem is an even nastier problem because communication is on lock down. I'm dealing with walls. Lots and lots of walls and it has left me heavy hearted and damaged.  I'm reading a lot. I'm constantly trying to find more effective ways of discussing these issues so that we're able to have a freakin' civil discourse.

Do you ever feel like people aren't listening? That they're only waiting for the break in your conversation so that they can say what they want to say? I would love to hear a story from a reformed all lives matter believer...someone from the blue lives camp who actually hears and agrees that no where in the statement, "black lives matter" does it say, "that means I'm anti everything else." The amount of walls going up... I have some questions. Lots and lots of heavy-hearted questions.

I crave some real conversation.

I could do without the walls.
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