#FamilyFeud is the Blueprint We All Need for 2018, Thanks to Ava Duvernay
“Well, when I was nine years old Star Trek came on,” Whoopi Goldberg says. “I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.”
When we talk about the critical importance of representation, it is not a matter of a Dorian Gray like narcissism. It’s a matter of visualizing ourselves thriving, fighting, winning, loving, living and happily. It’s a matter of being given permission to dream up a world in which we aren’t reduced to prison sentences, hashtags, or slavery white savior complex movies, whose purpose is much more to quell the guilt of an America that has yet to come to terms with its bloody past. Representation is a matter of dreaming up a world in which we dare to overcome, to fight and win, when reality so often feels like a losing battle. It’s as if Ava and Jay-Z knew that 2017 wore us down and they wanted to give us a space to hope for better.
You cannot dream up what you can’t envision for yourself and Ava gave us a grand vision. From Founding Mothers of all races, to a Native American woman co-president, to freedom fighters. It was the visuals of our wildest dreams, splashed on the fiber optic canvas. You won’t know how badly your soul needed to see this until you do. Seeing the table of founding mothers was not just a matter of reshaping the founding fathers visual, but a way for us to examine who really gets a seat at the table. Who really gets to discuss the future of America if not the most marginalized on whose bloodied backs this nation was built? Who better than a white woman, to say “In a perfect world it would be lovely if we could put down our weapons and get along, but that’s not the world that we live it”? It was important that she be the one to say this, because white people are often to quick to demand love and forgiveness in the face of oppression, with an unwillingness to be invested in dismantling the system that thrives on dehumanizing black folks. What is love or peace, if it doesn’t continuously ask who doesn’t have a seat at the table?
Speaking of seats, did you witness Irene Bedard as the Native American woman co-president of America, when last did you see a native American woman with this much power in the visual story of modern America? How often do we think about the place of Native Americans in the legacy of this nation? Even though this country is the burial ground of their genocide, and continues to push them to the margins. “Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ” , a Lakota proverb for “we are all related”, a reminder from Bedard, not to simply speak it, but to be about that life. That solidarity is work, that it is to be deliberate about a liberation that includes everyone, because as uttered by Janet Mock in the film, “America/[the world] is a family and The whole family should be free”.
This film gave me so much to think about, to dream about, to strategize, to plan, to manifest. Spells cast and prayers spoken is what these scenes felt like. I was, still am in awe of the visuals. Of seeing a world collectively invested in freedom for all. I’m in near tears. This reawakened me. A timely rebirth at the dawn of 2018, rising from the debris of 2017 to march on to a better world, gloriously, relentlessly. I stand amazed and uplifted.