Film & The Freedom Struggle
I love Spike Lee and all of his movies. I remember being so inspired that after seeing his movie “Malcolm X”, I bought the autobiography and shortly after decided to go natural. I started growing out my perm with braids and planned to sport a fro my first year in college.
I was 15 years old.
While reading his book, I remember feeling like I missed the revolution. I was saddened by it. My greatest treasure in life was being black and everything that came with it. Growing up in Tennessee, I often felt the Black community moved through life as though we had already arrived as a people, but from where I sat, we still had so much more to do. I really didn’t see anyone DOING anything. At least not to the degree of Malcolm and Martin. And so I opted to leave the South, selected Howard University as my school of choice and continued on my journey to not only understand the Black struggle, but also find solutions that would create social impact.
Almost 3 decades later, I’m still on that journey, only, in 2019, the struggle of African Americans to be accepted as equals has now trickled into other communities and segments of society who also face discrimination. As a Black woman in America, I am a double minority, meaning I struggle for equality not just because of the color of my skin, but because of my gender as well. My fight for freedom has expanded to include this fact.
African Americans and Media
In 2010, after complaining for years about the impact stereotypes of African Americans in the media have on race relations, I enrolled in film school to learn how to tell stories visually. I learned how the human brain processes visual cues and how to use this knowledge to tell a story. I also learned the history of film and its beginnings as a tool for propaganda, which brings us to a fun fact:
The first woman director and most likely the only female filmmaker in the world from 1896-1906 was Alice Guy-Blaché. This is an important fact because in 2017-2018 statistics indicated that:
- Women accounted for only 27% of all creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography working on broadcast network, cable, and streaming programs
- 97% of the programs considered had no women directors of photography, 86% had no women directors, 76% had no women editors, 75% had no women creators, 74% had no women writers, 25% had no women producers, and 22% had no women executive producers
Changing the Future
History provides powerful insight regarding human propensities, potentials and failures. In other words, if we do not work each day to create a new reality for all beings regardless of race, sexuality and gender, we stand to repeat the same mistakes and face the same trials of those who walked before us.
The truth is that change is possible through the choices we make and where we expend our energy. For me, it is a thrill of a lifetime that, in 2019, when 22% of what we watch has no women executive producers, I can work with, hang out and build with the executive producer of the groundbreaking webshow “The Asheville View”, a show dedicated to elevating marginalized perspectives and serving as a resource of hope to promote diversity, inclusivity and equity.
I am especially proud that this project is spearheaded and produced by a Black woman… a double minority, just like me: A Black woman who is raising her voice to discuss the hard topics that our predecessors could not on behalf of all people.
Perhaps, there is hope and we SHALL overcome after all…
by Ebone Graham