Sometimes, I step into spaces where there aren’t a lot of Black people and I get excited—almost giddy. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware of the lack of representation. But today, in 2022, I am noticing the opportunity to shine more than ever before. In some of the spaces I have stepped into—specifically in the church world, the music industry, non-profit, and even, briefly, tech and retail, I’ve observed how the lack of representation is an invitation to introduce the beauty, perspective, and excellence of the Black voice.
While unjustified, the gaps where brilliant Black artists, musicians, writers, thought and industry leaders aren’t have become lucrative spaces for men and women of the Diaspora to intervene and rightly convey aspects of us the world has yet to see. I know how easy it is to view a people through lenses of prejudice and preconceived notions. As a Black woman, I am invited into those lonely gaps to tell a different story about me.
The seed was planted within me long ago to stand in the gap. In elementary school and middle school, the main names I heard connected to the civil rights narrative were Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One lesser-known name, to me, was Medgar Evers. I had never heard his name until in the 5th grade my white teacher, Mr. Bush, showed us a film about him. I don’t think I cried, but I remember being in a daze, wanting—needing to know more about this man who inserted himself into the hellish narrative of segregation.
I read books about the civil rights movement and focused on Evers’ life. Before Wikipedia was a thing, I asked “Jeeves” (the predecessor to googling). Rewatching the film and asking Mr. Bush about him, I learned that each activist wasn’t a monolith and had a different way of approaching injustice in their time. Evers led the charge in Mississippi as we know it. He went above and beyond to make sure that in his lifetime any space restricted from Black citizens would not go unchecked.
Posthumously, Evers became the muse for biopics, song lyrics, and even James Baldwin’s reflections in the film I Am Not Your Negro. He, and other activists, went into spaces where Black people were not only absent but not welcome. He told a different story. He altered the narrative.
Right now, I am pursuing an education in screenwriting. I enjoy Black history biopics, African motifs, watching actors speak on their current roles, and listening to filmmakers share their ‘why’ behind color, cinematography, and film direction. The study of story positively balloons the way I see life and challenges my way of seeing the world.
I am learning that perspective is everything, and it is necessary for me to walk, day to day, with fresh eyes as I observe the world around me. The alternative is becoming so narrow-minded and jaded that I miss the invitation to hope, to dream, and to give. Why am I saying that? Because this is what I believe has to happen to tear down the walls of racial inequity in the hearts of non-Black men and women.
The world can benefit from my eyes. From seeing the world as I have experienced it and as I imagine it could be. This is a statement that is anyone’s to claim. The world needs your eyes. It needs your perspective.
Medgar Evers’ perspective of the world was that every human was worthy of every space, from the University of Mississippi to the voting booth to public beaches. He gave his life on the premise of this perspective.
Reflecting on Medgar Evers’ life, I’ve become aware that excellence is not the call of the crowds as they turn their desires toward Black influence, simply because it is trendy now. No, it is the inner call that we as Black people have always had: to live, to have our hearts beating, to share our perspectives, and to take on the world until we are living in it, freely—inside and out.
In what way can your unique, shared perspective change the world around you?Leave a Comment