Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Focus Lens: Black Panther, the Movie

As I sat there with tears rolling down my face listening to Killmonger utter his famous last words “Bury me in the ocean where my ancestors jumped from ships because they knew death was better than bondage” my mind raced while my heart ached. I wasn’t crying because the character was such a great person, he was indeed the villain in this poignant film. I was crying because Michael B. Jordan’s character embodied the unfortunate plight of the African American male in America. He represents everything that the African American man has faced and still faces as an orphan in a distant land where he has never been accepted.

Killmonger’s name itself tells you the essence of the man. He is in the market or trade to kill, destroy life. Now that is saying something. A man who’s only lot in life is to kill is who the writers of the comic book chose to be the representative of the African American male. He returned to the fairy tale land Wakanda to challenge the king and utopian nationalistic lifestyle he revered. Wakanda was the homeland he once fanaticized about returning to and being welcomed with open arms. Instead he was mocked and had to fight to claim his rightful place among his people.

His challenge was based on the fact that his father was murdered by the now king’s father, his uncle. He had a birthright to the throne and he fought to the death to claim it. Once he claimed it he had an intention to utilize the wealth, knowledge and technological advancements of the country to “free” displaced poor people all over the world, especially those of African descent. The theory was admirable, the execution not so much.

If I could pinpoint who he is, Killmonger would be the “nigga” that returned to Africa to destroy her. Now don’t get me wrong, his intentions were great but severely flawed. His hatred and anger clouded an otherwise honorable notion to free the world of poverty and oppression. His character could be studied by the academics for years to come giving them some light into what is the problem with the African American man? First things first, the man his too tired of the oppressive atmosphere he is surrounded by daily here in America. He is fed up with trying to fight for equality in a place where they do not even believe he is man. He is also weary of well doing when he could fight like Killmonger did and kill off those who threaten to end his inheritance. Not all African American men fall into the same category as this character so please stop thinking they do. However, the ones who are often forgotten and shunned now have a voice in Michael B. Jordan’s character.

All in all, the movie is a wonderful expression of our love for Africa and true desire to have our roots unearthed. Black Panther has already made history and is the first African American directed film to earn $1 billion worldwide. That is the power of my people. Still though, Disney owns it but is currently developing STEM programs for youth in our communities which is sorely needed today. That’s a step in the right direction. It just goes to show the world our art is valuable and can impact lives everywhere.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Giving the Real: Birthday Wish Come True?

Tomorrow I will be 42 years young, Lord willing. I am so happy to report that I am living life to the fullest and have survived every attack the enemy has thrown at me thus far. But no one really understands the reason why I am so excited. After I turned 30, I had it set in my mind that I was not going to make it to 40. I was very depressed and battling bipolar disorder, in and out of mental health wards across central Ohio. I had devised several plans on how to kill myself and the enemy had me bound. My mind was not right, and I was barely surviving for years.

Not only that, but when I turned 27 I was involved in a life-threatening car accident 10 days after my birthday. Even before then, when I was 21, I downed a half a bottle of sleeping pills then laid in my bed with the door blocked by my dresser listening to Anita Baker ready to die. I often wondered why all this centralized thought of destroying myself was even there. It didn’t matter what I did though, because God has a plan for my life and it shall come to pass no matter what I do.

One of the things I used to wish for when I was a little girl was to see my father for my birthday. I had the recurring fantasy that he would come back into our lives and everything would be alright with the world. However, when I came of age and had my first intimate encounter I remembered an awful atrocity that has framed my life and health since. I realized that I am a victim of CSA. My father was the perpetrator and it shook me to my core.

This past weekend, just 3 days before my birthday a stranger commented on one of my Facebook post that my biological father was searching for me and wanted to talk. Again, I was shaken to my core and went into a fit. However, I reached out to my brother and sister immediately to help me nullify the episode that the enemy was hell bent on putting me through yet again. My husband, mother and favorite aunt camped about me and prayed feverishly for my strength. To date, I am just fine and walking in the victory of my savior Jesus Christ.

As a child I wanted nothing more than to see my daddy for my birthday, but after I realized the horrific act he executed I did not want him in my life and my family protected me the best they could. Now don’t get me wrong, I have forgiven my father for his sins against me, but the wounds are still there and very present. They have affected every relationship I have ever been in, even the healthy one that I have with my husband of almost 4 years. However, I am not foolish nor willing to offer reconciliation currently in my life. He may not understand it or admit that he raped his own flesh and blood, but it’s my life and I must live it in the healthiest way I know how. I hold no ill will towards the man and often pray for his healing and redemption.

One day I may call him, just to finally hear his voice again. Until then, I will use my medium of writing to contact him. I hope my testimony will show other CSA survivors that life will go on. I have a degree is psychology from the Ohio State University and studied for a master’s degree in social work from Howard University. I am a published author, poet and song writer. I am married to a good man and every month I stay committed to taking the medication that helps me conquer bipolar disorder. I want CSA survivors to know it does and will get better and you do not have to be a victim forever. I am redeemed and finally free of the cloud of depression and self-hate that bewildered me for many years.

Now, I love who Toya Raylonn is, who she was and who she is becoming. I know that God loves me unconditionally and that my father here on earth is alive. That’s all a daughter can ask for considering the cards I was dealt with. My birthday wish was finally granted in a strange way and I’m glad about it. Still though, I am moving on and will continue to live my life in God’s peace.