I didn’t want to see Selma because I was raised on the Civil Rights Movement and know EVERYTHING I need to know about it. I’m sick of the same old stories and all the “We Shall Overcome”-ness of the nostalgia. Because now that the smoke has cleared, our overcoming has given us its ass to kiss.
But I was so wrong about this movie. I watched it in protest as I twisted my locks, also in protest. My husband came home while I was watching and said “I thought you didn’t want to watch that”. I said, “I don’t and I’m crying and it’s SO GOOD”.
I live in England now and I’m shocked by how seeing a bunch of Black Americans standing up for themselves in the face of adversity makes me cry. Ferguson, NY, #BlackLivesMatter have seen an tsunami of my tears and had clapping like Squeek in The Color Purple when she sees Nettie across the field and has all that joy for Celie. "Yass, Yass!“ hands clapped in front of mouth, tears rolling down my cheeks.
That’s how Selma made me feel. That’s my blood, you see. My family migrated north to Chicago from Jackson, Miss in the 30’s. My grandma who didn’t leave the house much took me to vote with her for Harold Washington. I know how important it is to vote. I didn’t vote this year for the first time in my life. I’d bungled the absentee ballot and missed my chance. It’s a shame I’ll have to live with for a few years. I’ll get over it, but I feel it.
Seeing all those beautiful, brilliant, brave Blacks please me greatly. When Lorraine Toussaint’s character tells Coretta that her blood has prepared her for anything life can throw at her, that’s my mantra. Everyday when systematic racism makes me think I won’t get hired for a job, or nobody wants to hear what I have to say, I tell myself that somebody survived a holocaust, several of them, for me to be here and to even have the nerve to sit at a magical typing box and say what I feel.
I’m very grateful for watching that. I’m so proud of Ava. What a beautiful job.
And didn’t that lady look just like Coretta? Just. Like. Coretta.