Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My siblings and I would tune in practically every week with our mom and I remember thinking that Sarah Michelle Gellar was so awesome.
When I hung out with my friends, we'd play make believe games and the day would always end with us playing Buffy. My friend Sara loved the show too and because she looked like Buffy, every time we would play, she always got to be her. I never pushed the topic and now that I think about it I don't think that I ever even asked to be Buffy. I could never picture it, so I guess that translated into me thinking that I could never be Buffy. In my mind, even though I knew that it was all make believe, a Black Vampire Slayer was so unfathomable, I couldn't even imagine it.
I recently saw Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time and both movies affected me deeply. Black Panther is truly a powerful film. When I saw the film, just a few weeks ago, it was the first time in my life that I had seen an action movie filled with characters that looked just like me. Characters that reflected me with their deep set brown eyes, dark skin and thick hair. Characters that had depth, were educated, propelled the story line and spoke in a way that embodied wisdom and personality.
It's really fascinating to think about how deep the disparities run in this country. In 30 years I'll look back at my life and think about being a 28 year old woman, in the year 2018 and seeing an action film filled with people of color for the FIRST time.
I'm happy that kids today, little brown boys and girls, don't have to wait until they're in their late 20's to see themselves portrayed in well made films. A Wrinkle in Time is the other movie that I saw recently and it made me think of my nieces, Emma and Isabel. It's a film, starring Storm Reid, a little brown girl with thick curly hair as the heroine. She is curious and loving, guarded and kind, a fictional character yet played by a very real young woman that is brown and beautiful.
I didn't grow up seeing people that look like me as leads in movies. The majority of the movies that I saw promoted a cast full of white actors except for one or two black people who were there to help move the story line along, not to add any depth to it. Most movies depicted men that, look like my dad and my brothers, as gangsters, rapists and dead beat fathers and portrayed women that look like my mom, myself and my sister; as drug addicts, pregnant teens and single mothers.
If I measured my potential for success by what I saw in films I would have thought that jail, the ghetto or pregnant and alone was the limit. When it comes to celebrities nominated for awards, because of their roles either in or on a movie, I always tell Patrick that "I'm rooting for anyone brown." I say it partially in jest but really I shamelessly cheer for people like Jordan Peele, Dev Patel, Ava DuVernay, Mindy Kaling, Lupita Nyong'o and Jesse Williams. Not because they're necessarily the best, even though they are really good, but rather because what they're doing is raising the scope of what's possible and making what was the glass ceiling, when I was growing up, the new floor.
Movies like Hidden Figures, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time, give little brown boys and brown girls a tangible example of how far their dreams can take them. If they want to be the president, they can, if they want to be an an action star, they can and if they want to wrinkle time...maybe they can do that too.