The dream is real, my friends. The failure to realize it is the only unreality
Toni Cade Bambara
I’m standing in the “Intersection of Life,” praying for God to guide me like never before, so that when I move on down the road, it’ll be with ease, with peace, and with joy. I’m happiest when I know that I’m exactly where God wants me to be. Less important is where I end up.
I felt God’s grace as I sat on the Director’s panel at the screening of Out of Bounds (OOB)at Raleigh Studios last month, although I had a “Deer in the headlights moment.” But probably not for the reasons you’d think: I haven’t discovered that I’m the next Steven Spielburg, although directing was loads of fun.
The “Deer in the headlights moment” came because Out of Bounds was not on my life’s plan, and while sitting there, I realized how amazing it is when I’m smart enough to listen to what God is telling me to do, even when every one around me is telling me otherwise.
Secondly, I was in Hollywood, across the street from Paramount Studios, which was the last place I expected to end up when I decided to return to school to get an MFA. I took television writing, the class in which I wrote the script, because it fit my schedule and there was no playwriting class being offered that quarter. I’d returned to school to get the last nuggets of knowledge needed to, confidently, continue to write books and plays.
Hollywood had knocked on my door once when my first book was optioned, and I had knocked back when I created my first pilot two years ago. An interesting place with interesting people, but I’ve never been sure it’s the place for me, other than for the money , which is never enough in God’s eyes. Yet, there I sat in a director’s chair. And my astonishment was intensified by the pain meds I had taken for excruciating back pain right before leaving the house. I was feeling good:).
The moderator, an accomplished, classy film editor, with a long list of IMDB credits, including one for Greenleaf on OWN Network, only had a few soft words to say to me after OOB was screened:
“The struggle is real in 2017.”
I loved the comment and realized that she really got the short. When I wrote OOB, I was in an environment where I felt isolated because of my gender, sex, and age. With each beat and word of OOB, I was extricating myself from the cracks in which I felt stuffed over the years as a woman with brown skin, now a mature woman with adult children. I was shining flood lights on dark places while basking in the glow of all the accomplishments of Black women and people. I love Black people: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dear-black-people_us_590a794de4b084f59b49ffa0
The main character, Crystal Thorn, is a bi-racial Professor of African American literature. Her husband is a retired NBA star who is currently an executive for the NBA.
With each stroke of the computer key, I was loving on white people who don’t judge Black folks by the color of their skin. The main character’s best friend is White. Her Mom is White. Read my Huff Post piece to my White brothers and sisters. We’re all one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5924adbae4b0dfb1ca3a0f4b
I was thinking about millennials who treat my enlightened generation with respect. The main character is the mentor of a young, brilliant activist.
I was celebrating the LGBTQ community. Crystal’s best friend is a lesbian. I was praising God. After a major blow-out, the Thorn family goes to church, in a script section I call, “Kept Woman.” I was celebrating black love and Black families. The Thorns have three sons, just like I have three wonderful sons.
When I dropped my pen after finishing it, I looked at those around me, who had attempted to stuff me in a black woman’s hole, and I smiled and glided out the room. In my eyes, I exuded the boldness and grace of my youth. It’s exciting to see it unfold as I stay open to the possibilities of it, which I believe includes sharing it on campuses while I talk about Art Intersecting Activism in the Era of Trump. I’m fund raising for the possibilities of this.
Black folks must talk about how having a President that celebrates White Supremacy makes us feel. To move forward in a healthy way, we must express the deep hurt that we’re experiencing. The Out of Bounds short, whose scenes are not even in the TV Pilot script, inspires conversation.
I also had a “Deer in the headlights moment” because after having three adult children, being married for decades, teaching public school, dedicating my life to non-profit work, I’m standing in the middle of a four-way intersection in the third quarter of life on sacred ground. God has kept me and my family.
In the intersection, my three sons and my hubby are standing on the right side of me. To the left of me, are friends and associates, who have been supportive over the decades.
To the back of me, are all those I’ve worked with and met as I’ve been a student, a mother, a wife, a public-school teacher, an advocate for the disabled, a volunteer for the homeless, and a voice for the voiceless. Behind them, out of view, are all the haters I’ve encountered over the years. They stand at the very back.
As far as I’m concerned, my three roads have divinely merged in an anointed way. So, as a Black woman, I stand tall in the intersection.
I stand on the shoulders of my Mom, Dr. Georgia Mae, who retired as a Director of Military Schools for the Department of Defense, was the first Black and the first woman to hold such a position in the 70s. A woman who thrived with breast cancer for 32 years before she passed. Although she’s been gone for 14 years, I sobbed on Mother’s Day.
As a Black woman and as my Mama’s child, I have to always be prepared to do things on my own, so I sent out a few emails asking for donations to the OOB project. The lack of response was chilling.
Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, was sitting in the dark when she received notice of the win. Her lights had been turned off for non-payment. Zora Neale Hurston died in a welfare home. I’ve sacrificed the comforts of a 9 to 5 to get to this intersection and history has shown that Black female writers do not always fare well. I must think outside the box.
Finally, ahead of me is a long, colorful, and empty road, filled with music, that I get to skip down, dance over, and create on, with every forward step that I take.
It’s been a blessed life, and I’m filled with gratitude, so before I start on the journey, I breathe deeply. I smile, peacefully.
I understand how important it is to laugh out loud often.
And I recognize that love is the most powerful energy in the Universe.
As a woman, I have transformed from being a little girl, scared of all things, to being a woman who knows.
As a writer and artist, I look forward to loving on the planet, on the populations I mentioned above, on my family, and on you with my art. I’m not so particular about the form; books, plays, readings, shorts, or films are all fine by me. But no matter what, I’ll hope to inspire you to see bright colors everywhere and to feel the joy of living.
I’m inclined to entertain with my natural comedic side. Sitting in the darkened theater at the Raleigh Studio screening, I felt deeply, most, when the audience laughed at my words.
But I’m also called to examine difficult and dark truths in life; my art often intersects with activism as God’s calls for me to be a voice for the voiceless and to provide support for the hurting. There is no greater honor.
The opportunities to serve the homeless, the disabled, and women in need always come. My husband’s former UCLA basketball teammate came into my life on my birthday. He’s been homeless for a couple of years, although he played in the NBA and overseas after UCLA. I want to take a care package to him: Big, loose comfortable clothes, money, and gift cards. I want to stay in touch with him to make sure that he gets an apartment and the services for which he’s applying.
Every week I bump into my homeless friend in Sherman Oaks, who has been sitting in Starbucks for 15 years. I wish I were Tyler Perry and could snap my fingers and buy them both a condo. I’m not writing about their stories because, honestly, I don’t care whether a person has mental illness or not. No one deserves to live in tents and on the street. I have a documentary script and a, comedic, feature that illuminates issues of homelessness and mental illness.
Daily, I manage my Autistic’s sons life and so I know first hand how much young adults with disabilities need to feel included in society. I will always support these causes.
I will trust God to guide me. I will not chase after anybody or anything.
Soon I will be face-to-face with you, and we will enjoy our time together in the intersection:). It’s been an incredibly busy season, and I placed too much on my plate. So, I changed the date for the next “Out of Bounds” screening and talk.
The link to the invite is here: http://event.pingg.com/OutofBoundsShort
If you’re inclined to support an art project like this, you can donate here: https://outofboundsproject.eventbrite.com
Until I see you at the screening, I’m sending lots of love and hugs to you and yours.
Standing in the intersection, I exhale, and then I calmly proceed.
God is guiding me.
P.S. I was inspired to write about my intersection after attending an amazing event at the Hammer Museum, a conversation hosted by renowned legal scholar Professor Kimberle Crenshaw and Playwright and activist Eve Ensler. Professor Crenshaw created the term Intersectionality as it relates to feminism and anti-racism and is an amazing scholar. I borrowed the term from her:).