WRITE OUR WRONGS

After I discovered that I could draw, through the bloodline of my father,  I also discovered I could write, from the passion for learning from my Mom. She taught me how to read when I was three years old. The Spooky Old Tree was the first book I proudly recited from cover to cover.  I’ll admit, I probably couldn’t correctly identify the word I was saying with the actual word in isolation. BUT, I had committed it to memory.  And there was an experience of learning that happened, when I read and asked questions.  This made me curious and intrigued by opening a book and realizing that something that you didn’t know before, you would know all about once you were done. Nonetheless, it fostered my love for storytelling, which compelled me to read more and then eventually, write my own stories.

Like many women my age, in my younger years, I was an avid fan of Judy Blume.  She inspired me to begin to write stories that my peers could identify with and thus began my amateur writing career at eleven years old.  I would hand-write hundreds of pages with story lines ranging from friendships, relationships to teen pregnancy. Those themes continued to develop in my story writing through adolescence, and as I grew, and explored more themes in fiction, I began to enjoy nonfiction.  Which unfortunately, formed a bit of writer’s block for my fiction palette and led me to put the pen down for many decades as I soaked up new information from biographies, essays and anthologies.

Well, recently, I picked the pen back up and revisited my childhood passion for writing fiction, and much to my satisfaction, it was just like riding a bike.  I enjoyed it so much, and I kept going, and I kept writing.  Unlock the Lies, allowed me to get my feet wet and since then, I’ve written multiple stories and I’m even learning screenwriting.  Why, because I also love movies and television.  I was a TV child…raised during a time when television was the oasis of household entertainment.  Every sitcom and movie the eighties and nineties produced, I had seen.  I even discovered nostalgia films that I began to appreciate as channels like Turner Classic Movies rebroadcasted classic Hollywood films from the golden eras of cinema.  I also explored the blaxploitation films of the seventies and even though it’s controversial themes received backlash from black contemporaries of the time, I still found their relevance in my culture’s love for self-expression.

I have made it my goal to tell the Coming of Age story that no one has bothered to tell in Hollywood…the black girl. She, much similar to life, has been overlooked and undervalued because of her sex and the color of her skin.  My daughter needs to see her, your daughter does too.  I grew up loving John Hughes movies and I still adore Molly Ringwald to this day.  She epitomized almost everything I wanted to be and was, especially in Pretty in Pink.  But there was always a startling difference, her skin color and the silky texture of her hair.  I could model her mannerisms, I could model her style of dress, and I could even perfectly imitate her quirkiness at times, but I could never have skin so milky or the perfect shade of auburn red hair with her signature wind-blown swoop silky texture.  I don’t want them over my own, today, but back then, I did.  It took me some time to build up a love for my natural self, because of the lack of examples in TV and film that did not exist during the critical times of my pubescent years.  It’s important to me and it should be important to you, that if Molly Ringwald could play out a role that so many white girls could feel proud, identify wholeheartedly with, and see the possibility for their future in her just being herself…then I can create the same for black girls.  And the next thing you know, a wave of representation will be explored  for Latina girls, for Asian girls, for Indian girls, etc. Better esteem makes us all better people…and when we feel better, we do better, we make better choices.  Our world, NEEDS better and I hope and pray that through writing, I can be apart of that change.