Updated: Aug 2, 2020
I haven’t watched it. I won’t. Likely. Until I do. If I ever do. I don’t know.
To be black right now in white institutions, in white families, with white friends, in the white world, is to have a spotlight on you, not unlike a big white target. They could shoot you with it. In the back. Or the front. They could “hollywood” you, praise your every step, give you a gold star just for Being. “How are you, I’m thinking of you, I have your back, I want to listen, I want to respect your space, Sending you love.” These are not bad things, they come from Black people too:
I’m an actor you see. I’m an actor not acting likely for some time. What does this mean?
That I like the lights. I always have. Phylicia Rashad, another Black actress with a certain type of elegance I share, if I may be so bold to compare, said she feels safe under them. The boundary of their sphere, holding, containing, shining light on what was dark, glistening our skin (these are my feelings now) - they’ve made me feel beautiful.
There is a video of me as a child, maybe 5,6, or 7. My mom’s then boyfriend, would be fiance except that she wouldn’t, was filming me splash around close to if not fully naked in a kiddie pool. The whole thing feels quite pervy, except for there being not a single memory of abuse, which I can say with confidence since I searched down that dark mental path of possibility.
I say to him “Look at me! Watch me Gary”
Gary is a white man. I assume he still is. I haven’t seen him since I don’t know when, but I’ll stick with that assumption. He had a white man’s voice. It was dark and ominous as you’d expect from the child pornography angle (which again, I don’t think this was). Nevertheless, he says things from behind the camera like, “what are you doing Rebecca?”
I answer sometimes, sometimes I don’t and just twirl, falling back in the ankle deep water and crushing the sides of the blue plastic pool by flopping the weight of my body over it.
There is a turn.
At some point I start talking, seemingly out of nowhere, maybe in response to him.
5 or 6 or 7 year old Rebecca says, “stop looking at me.”
White Gary doesn’t believe me, he prompts more questions, keeps filming
“Turn it off” I say.
I raise my voice becoming more insistent, a Rebecca more forceful at 5, 6, or 7 than I can recognize myself at any adult age.
I stamp my feet, ball my fists saying “turn it off!”
He says things like “why Rebecca?” or “you want me to turn it off?”
before finally the picture goes dark.
I win. I never saw it this way before. Little Rebecca was victorious. Her little black body, her wants, her desire, her changing her mind, her voice, her stamp, her play, her dance.
Fuck the white gaze, especially the male one. And I’m fully aware that I need it, have needed it, have been dependent on it, seek it, fuck with it, get paid by it. I’m fairly certain it's not going away any time soon. And so.
Basically I’m glad my mom didn’t marry Gary. She is in fact, a lesbian.
We’ve chuckled at the Gary years, it seemed silly to us, a time she seems to chalk up to...Oh I don’t know...a certain fantasy of security? Maybe she liked him. Maybe she thought he was good for us.
But she seemed to refer back to him as a bit of a doofus, a dud. She said she knew something was off when he proposed to her with a turquoise stone ring.
Still, no hard feelings for Gary. If he’s alive and white today I wish him well.
I can still be grateful that he’s not a dad of mine. I can be grateful in this time that despite being white, I am not white.
What I’m saying is that I am grateful in this time to be Black.