Sunday, January 10, 2016
The first time I was pregnant I wished for a baby girl. I imagined dressing her like a doll when she was a baby and as she grew older, sharing lessons I’ve learned as a woman in America. Sadly, my dreams were shattered when I lost the baby due to complications with the pregnancy. In the months during my recovery, my only wish was that I would be able to conceive and have a healthy child. God choose to smile on me and 3 months following my loss, I was expecting. Despite a fairly difficult high risk pregnancy that involved numerous visits to the hospital, many doctors and a great deal of pain, 8 years ago I delivered a healthy baby boy.
I’ve kept my son happy, safe and he has been healthy ever since his birth. During my pregnancy I was so focused on keeping him inside of me (pre-term labor threatened an early, dangerous birth numerous times) that I rarely thought about the dangerous world that awaited outside my womb. However reality set in as stories of harassment, brutality and death of brown boys and girls continued to make headlines. Although I was raised in an era when I was well aware of the danger (who can forget Rodney King, just one of many horrible stories) outside my doors, not until I had to put it in the context of my own child, did I begin to experience deep fear in my heart.
My son is 8 and will turn 9 this year. Thus far he has lived a happy, healthy and safe life but we are the lucky ones. When 22 year old Oscar Grant was killed I wrote about my fears for my son. And then the deaths kept coming, younger and younger - Trayvon Martin, 17 and Tamir Rice 12 years old. Every inch my son grows brings more fear into my heart. If I were able to stop time, I would simply have kept him a baby. Safe and secure in my arms, nourished by the milk of my body but none of us has the power to stop time. And so, I wish.
I wish for a world where little brown boys and little brown girls are safe walking down the street, driving a car, listening to music, wearing a hoody, playing with a toy gun. I wish in 2016 this world would be a safe space for young and quite frankly older people would be safe and not targeted simply because of the color of our skin. However I am a realist and I know my wishes for 2016 will not fully come to fruition, but I remain hopeful. I continue to pray. And I remain committed to educating my son about the importance of being always mindful and aware of the dangers of being black in America. Most importantly, I maintain hope for a better world where it will be safe to walk, drive, talk, and play while black. Sadly this isn’t a reality yet, but I remain hopeful for our future.
I am happy to share my wishes for the future as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the Bentonville Film Festival. The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) was co-founded by Academy Award Winner® Geena Davis (Founder and Chair, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media) and entrepreneur Trevor Drinkwater (CEO, ARC Entertainment) in 2015. BFF's mission is to encourage content creation in film and other forms of media that reflects the diverse — and half female — world we live in. BFF proactively supports content creation by minorities and women with a platform to showcase their work. The second annual Bentonville Film Festival will be held May 3-8, 2016 in partnership with founding Sponsor Walmart, presenting Sponsor Coca-Cola and distribution partners AMC Theatres and Lifetime.
BFF accepts films into its competition having two or more of the following characteristics: Female or Minority Lead,Female or Minority Director, Female or Minority Writer, Female or Minority Production Company, Gender and Diversity Balanced cast, and/or Gender and Diversity Balanced crew. BFF guarantees full distribution to its winning films in the Best Narrative Jury Award, Best Family Film Award, and Audience Award categories.