I can and will do all that I set my mind to accomplish. If you are familiar with my works, you would know that this is a reoccurring theme of mine. Contrary to that belief, I am faced with fear in regards to my history: the struggles of my ancestors as well as the upbringing of my country. Wondering, how much it will affect my life going forward.
Now, as a disclaimer, this is not me whining on the struggles of being a black woman; a whine that causes one not included in this community to think, “is this for me?”. No, this is simply my perspective on a situation that made me look in the mirror and reflect. In saying this, I would also like to note that if there are any questions: big, small, offensive, shallow, ignorant, educated, and any other ones narrow or in between, please, please ask me. And this goes for anything else I write. My interest is not to educate, I seek the opportunity of conversation. Conversation that can lead to a learning experience for the both of us.
In the productions Being Mary Jane and Girl’s Trip, there are two black women who have risen up to the top of their desired careers. Both of which demonstrate the ideal outcome of the classic American dream phenomenon.
Mary Jane Paul:Being Mary Jane. Mary Jane Paul, a successful news anchor. The TV drama surrounds her life, not only, as a black women, but also one who holds the burden of family and relational drama as a whole. Personally, I fell in love with her character, as well as many other modern shows surrounding the lives of black women: Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Insecure, and thankfully I can say, the list continues.
The entertainment industry as a whole was not just meant for entertainment, but to influence people, allowing them to feel more confident that they can be similar to the situations and characters that they see on television. Which plays a similar role in how humans learn in general. We learn by observation: if they can do it, so can I. For instance, take the influence that Sesame Street has on children,
“Watching Sesame Street is an example of how toddlers can learn valuable lessons about racial harmony, cooperation, kindness, simple arithmetic and the alphabet through an educational television format.”
And, what about the psychological affects that television can have on adults as well?
“films and television programs can affect your psychological health. It can do this by directly affecting your mood, and your mood can then affect many aspects of your thinking and behavior.” — Graham C.L Davey
Therefore, it becomes quite easy for me to be infatuated by the character Mary Jane Paul. A women who pursued her education, snatched her career by the balls and made it her own. A career that allowed her to live in the modern home, of my dreams, along with her sports car. Yes, I wanted to be Mary Jane Paul, Ms.Self-made Extraordinaire.
Ryan Pierce:Girl’s Trip. Aside from the fact that the plot of the film was quite common, the film encompassed four women who met in college whose careers have taken hold of their lives leaving them unable to communicate for five years. A theme that, I would assume, the more obvious audience, the millennials, would be able to relate to quite easily. Ryan Pierce, a woman who seems to have everything together whether that ideal be through her marriage, career or self, this woman has it all. Or so we think, until she is seen panicking to herself in a corner repeating: “I am strong. I am powerful. I am beautiful.” towards the climax of the movie.
This is a reoccurring theme expressed through both characters Ryan Pierce, and Mary Jane Paul. A reoccurring theme that, to be frank, brought me to tears. Trying to be perfect to the point of not wanting others to see failure, which results to holding in feelings like a vacuum holds dirt. I can not help but connect this to what it could be like for some black women to be successfully involved in their careers. For them to feel as if they do not have room for mistakes being that the odds are already against them. Maybe this is how black people in general feel, notwithstanding women across the board. Like walking on the against the ocean’s current and falling.
The black caste system. A system which was created to systematically oppress blacks. Bringing African Americans to a time period that was, argumentatively, worst than slavery. The Plessy vs. Ferguson case, which brought upon: separate, but equal. A system that has effects that still goes on. Maybe this is one of those effects: African-Americans willing to bite the bullet no matter the circumstances. These industries were not created to be ran by you.
Maybe I feared that my childhood mantra: you can and will do all you set your mind to, isn’t as ideal as I thought it to be, making it too unrealistic to the outcome of my future. Grant it, this is an exaggeration.
There will always be challenges; challenges each individual will have to face. How one endures such challenges, it is up to them. The notion of being so hard on oneself that one does not have room for error was something that I related to a lot. I saw that it was something that as a community, there are black women who struggle with a similar mentality. No, this is not to say that others do not, it is simply me saying this is what I related to. I believe it is always important to share one’s emotions, thoughts, passions, and situations. Apart of my confidence is connected to my level of vulnerability. When I do not express things going on in my life, it is equivalent to me invalidating not only my emotions, but also the situations in themselves. Which means for me, in order to continue continue to work hard to reach the things that I desire to get to, it is going to require me to have not only confidence in myself, but also focus on God. Because if there is one thing that I have learned in following God, it’s that I was created for a purpose. This notion gets tossed around a lot, but what it truly means is something that one does not understand until their life expectancy has reached the end. Although, what I do know is that I was created for something great, something that no one can take away from me. Something that, no matter how difficult people make things to me, only I could take away from myself.
For, “you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” Dr.Seuss