If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.-Toni Morrison
As we move into March (Woo hoo for spring time!) I am in awe of how time speeds past us faster than the Road Runner (and like Wile E. Coyote, catches us off guard and knocks us on our bum). I’m grateful to share my adventures, musings and confessions with you. Let the sharing continue!
One of my favorite pastimes is going to the movies; winter, spring, summer and fall. I stroll into the lobby of a movie theater (shout out to AMC Theaters) and am greeted by the aroma of buttery popcorn. After I purchase the salty, buttery goodness, I eagerly enter the subdued lighted room which will transport me to another world for the next two hours. Since I possess a short attention span, movies provide the perfect voyage to new worlds, complex characters and universal themes such as love, family, adversity, fate, and dozens of other themes. The craft of storytelling is an important part of film. With every film I see, I try to absorb the message the author is sending to the audience.
The last movie I saw was The Photograph, starring Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Y’lan Noel and Chante Adams. This post isn’t a review of the movie per se, however I definitely recommend going to see the film. With a predominantly African American cast, The Photograph tells the story about a young woman named Mae who recently lost her mother to cancer. An art curator at Queens Museum, Mae meets a young man named Michael who works as a photographer. Mae’s mother, Christina, was a famous photographer who came from the countryside of Louisiana to pursue her passion for photography. Michael wants to do a profile of Christina’s photograph collection for the newspaper he works for and Mae becomes the platform for his research. The two meet at a gala sponsored by the Queens Museum, develop a relationship, fall in love, and, well, I’ll let you see for yourselves.
What I appreciated about The Photograph came from the universal themes of discovering your past, love, following your dreams, and longing for connection. Christina, the dreamer (Mae’s mother), falls in love with Isaac, a fisherman from Louisiana. Isaac wants stability and to build a life with Christina. Christina wants freedom to pursue her passion. Her steeled concentration of her passion led to her distant relationship with Mae. Mae tries to revisit that lost connection with the support of Michael (who struggles to maintain connection).
Each scene of the film presents snapshots of the characters’ lives. One of the strongest elements of the film is the lighting and cinematography;the way the camera zooms in on Mae through Michaels’s point of view (love at first sight), the brightness of the countryside of Louisiana, the calm blue hues during a storm (this is where I caution parents with children under 13) while Michael and Mae make love for the first time.
If you are looking for an action packed romp, The Photograph is definitely not the film. The subtleness of each scene is the movie’s core strength. More importantly, the film told a story with two African-American leads which didn’t involve drugs, gang violence, racism, poverty, or slavery. The topics listed are a part of the African-American experience, but that can be said for whites, Asian Americans , Latinx American, and Native Americans.
I remember numerous conversations with my friend *Macy about how lucky young people of color are to have young adult authors such as Tomi Adeyemi, Nicola Yoon, Jenny Han, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Jason Reynolds to tell stories about youth who look like us. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” highlights how stereotypical storytelling can harm a group of people (her Ted Talk is amazing and one I will be covering her talk in a future blog post). I remember growing up and constantly reading stories about young African-Americans escaping slavery, dealing with gangs, or overcoming racism in the Civil Rights Era.
Yes, those stories need to be told as they are an integral part of African-American history. However, I could have used stories about powerful young black girl wizards, warriors, scientists, and superheroes. The reason I reclaimed my love for storytelling is because I aim to write the stories that were missing from my bookshelves.
I am also a Christian who loves God and one of my goals is to write young adult Christian fiction. Oftentimes, I’ve observed the media portrayal of christians, particularly in America, as haughty, judgmental and hypocritical. When I write, I know I have the power to share my story, my testimony while showing the power, saving and redeeming love of Christ Jesus. God himself is a storyteller! The Bible is a true story of God’s relationship with mankind. Genesis 1:3 read “And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light” (NIV) . God used words to create us! Psalms 139:16 reads “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (NIV). God writes the story of our lives, creates us and sends us off on an adventure to share His love. What a story to be a part of!
Whether you’re Christian, African-American, white, Latinx, Asian, Native American, male, female, Differently Abled, or Klingon, we each have our own unique stories. Our stories can be powerful and engaging narratives that make a positive impact on our fellow humans.
Now tell me, what’s Yourstory?
The Bashful Butterfly