Let’s Toast to Love, Hope & Meet Me on The Southside

Hello Faithful Blogosphere! I know, two posts in one day? Woa, she must have a lot to say today. Well, yes. I do. The last time that I went to the movies to see a film was when the film DOPE came out. That was in super early 2015. Let me clarify. For me to go to the movies and actually pay money to watch something, I have to cross off a checklist. If you’ve ever heard of the DuVernay checklist, coined by amazing director, Ava DuVernay, it goes a lil sumn like dis:

The film in question MUST have at least a black/of color director.

The film in question MUST have at least one black/of color producer.

The film in question MUST have at least one POC in a starring role that is not subservient, exploitative, demeaning and/or dehumanizing toward the POC community. 

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You may say that this is extreme, and I am…extremely vigilant about my mental health when it comes to what I choose to watch. In my early life, my mother was very adamant that I watch movies and tv shows in which I could see myself. Human or not, I needed to watch brown skinned individuals when I turned on the tv. Needless to say, I saw Roots, A Different World, Living Single, all Spike Lee films, Daughters of the Dust and all old black and white films with Lena Horne. So in my opinion, having a checklist seems only logical. I notice very quickly that if I’m not vigilant about the checklist, as soon as I watch something, I feel unfulfilled, mad because I spent my money to further not only capitalism, but a white oftentimes heterosexual way of living and frustrated because I didn’t even get any cool ideas for pieces out of it. I feel that being vigilant helps me in my activism, helps me to remain accountable and ultimately helps me to know who I am in this world.

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, lets move on to the film portion. I went to see Southside With You. Now for those looking at me like I’m crazy because the film’s director is not black, so many of the producers for this film were big BLACK names, that I chose to forego one of the checks on the list. After extensive research, I felt that I knew what I was getting myself into and it wouldn’t disappoint. For those who may not know, the film is a biographical romance based on the first date of Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama. That’s right people! POTUS & FLOTUS! As I was in the theater, I sat next to two friends of mine. One, highly skeptical that love like this even exists anymore, one pretty neutral about it all and me in the middle, cheesing the entire film and marveling at the power of black love in front of my face. 

One thing one must know about me. I came from a “broken” household. My mom was a single parent and I don’t even remember seeing my parents happy or loving towards each other. Both my parents remarried and when I was in college, I got to see my mom in a loving relationship. It puzzled me. So love did actually exist and this was what it looked like? I had a hard time getting comfortable with the idea of public displays of affection in a romantic way. Love with a fellow black person was completely out of my range and made me more uncomfortable than anything else. The beauty of the film, albeit the overdone Chicago accents, was the growth and projection of character. We saw Michelle as a fully flushed out woman and then we saw Barack as a fully fleshed out man. We saw them begin that spark that would turn into a loving relationship that I personally admire today. I can’t remember the last time I saw that on screen. I can’t remember the last time I saw a film without sex in it. Sex isn’t bad. Sex is good! But sometimes, I think love and sex get mixed up. Sexual energy is so very necessary to our development as human beings but it truly isn’t everything just as affection without romance can many times go flat. We need all of these representations.

But aside from the actual representations, there were such necessary themes for young people to watch. When your Auntie or Grandma tells you to listen to the old people to get the best love lessons, this is what they mean:

  1. Defensiveness will dig the biggest holes and you better have a shovel handy to dig yourself out.
  2. Love can come from the most unlikely of places.
  3. People tell you who they are, believe them.
  4. Be able to admit when you’re wrong, and do it with your humanity tuned in.
  5. Be scared of love, love can be scary, but don’t reject it. Let people in.

I remember being told these things growing up and thinking, “Whatever, half of y’all are single parents”. But now that I realize and grow and find love for myself, I know that all of these hold truth and weight.

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Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the movie that Michelle and Barack wind up going to see in the film is Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone but I will say that the scene chosen is very calculated. We are blindsided with black love and black death next to each other and it brings so many things to mind. Even as we are hunted and killed, we continue to find love. So maybe there is hope.

Leg Up

Post film, I launched into a beautiful conversation with my friends. One of them, insisted that people don’t meet like that anymore. I think they do. I think that love finds us in the strangest of ways, we just have to be open to receiving it. I think getting hurt is bound to happen, it has to. Hurt is how we learn. Most recently, I read an article that talked about why being single is hard. It’s not the reason you think. The most difficult thing is going without touch. Being touched and touching, is such an important part of being human. 80% of our communication happens not with words but with body language. With singlehood comes a lack of touch. So many black and brown women are statistically going to be single. Does this mean we lose a part of our language? As I pose this question, I think of the weekend I just had. I won’t give away too much but I will say that it was full of late nights, late mornings and lots of touch in addition to conversation, intellectuality, and love. But as soon as it ended, I felt that I had to gear myself up for the coming time of non-intimacy. But what if I choose to seek intimacy? What if life is so unpredictable that all I can do is be present and remind myself that I am fully capable of love?

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