I don’t remember any live action movies growing up that featured someone like me. And now here comes A Wrinkle In Time with a mixed race protagonist and a diverse cast and crew.
Overall, it is a children’s story very much aimed at the 8-12 demographic. Despite being beautifully shot and infused with Oprah, the film is not intended for me. But as I watched it, somewhere–within a mildly entertained adult–was a younger version of myself finally feeling validated and represented in a genre I love.
One day I’ll be able to show this movie to my kids and say, “See, families like ours and children like you exist. And they get to have every bit as magical and heroic of adventures as anyone else.”
I am so grateful for this film and for director Ava DuVernay, whose other works include 13th, Venus Vs, and Selma. In her own words, “Civil rights work and social justice work take imagination, to imagine a world that isn’t there, and you imagine that it can be there. And that’s the same thing that you do whenever you imagine and insert yourself in a future space, or in a space where you’ve been absent.”
Thanks to this movie, there’s at least one imagined world made real, at least one absence turned into presence, and at least one mixed kid feeling happy.
My grandmother was born Year of the Dog–eight cycles ago. She will be 96 this year. I am reminded of a proverb a friend once said to my grandmother and then translated for me: one wave pushes the next wave forward. It’s the idea that each generation propels the next generation.
The force of my grandmother’s wave continues to push me forward. She survived occupation in WWII, immigrated to a new country, married a man she barely knew, finished high school at night, and ran the family business (a small grocery store) after my grandfather’s stroke.
My grandparents also found one of the few developers willing to sell land to non-white people and built a house, so the family could move out of the back of the grocery store. (When I was young, my dad went to our local grocery store almost everyday. I think it’s because it felt like home. After all, a grocery store was his first home.)
Though my relationship with my grandmother is complicated, I have deep respect for her. She is the wave that propelled my father, and my father propelled me.
So to her and to my dad–and every one else–I say Happy Year of the Dog!
One year ago we lost 49 (mostly queer, mostly Latinx) humans at Pulse.
Fifty years ago the Supreme Court ruled interracial marriages (like my parents’) were to be legal nationwide.
I wish I had a way to explain how inextricable these two events are to me, beyond their shared date.
The best I can do today–as a mixed race gay man–is to say love is an act of courage.
Sometimes going to dance at a club is an act of courage. Sometimes loving openly–and publicly–is an act of courage. Sometimes explicitly and boldly supporting those we know is an act of courage.
People have loved beyond society’s boundaries of race and gender for as long as society has had boundaries of race and gender. And that “transgression” is often met with hostility, violence, and even death.
I know you as my friends are neither hostile nor violent when it comes to race and gender. So instead I ask:
What people do you (and I) merely show tolerance rather than embrace warmly?
What words do we use that may unintentionally erase or belittle those who are different from ourselves?
What other ways can we be gentle, be loving, and be kind?
To the straight/white folks reading this: It is our responsibility to do this work, even and especially when it does not seem to directly affect our own lives.
To everyone (particularly the queer, Latinx, and POC folks) reading this: May you find love and courage to sustain you today, and everyday.
All emotions are true (there are no inauthentic emotions)
All emotions are messengers that bring information about our values and our needs
All emotions are energy in motion
All emotions have a particular frequency (vibration) in our bodies
There are no good emotions or bad emotions, only good and bad relationships with our emotions
Our choice (how we handle our emotions) determines whether our emotions have a positive impact”
I wrote this for a specific group, but I’ve been asked to share it. A lot of folks are just waking up to activism and are heading into intersectional feminist spaces with some trepidation. Hopefully this can help keep you on track. I’ve already been reminded that I missed code-switching, appropriation (which is a whole post, frankly, but TL;dr if a living group exists that can be mocked for the thing you think is cool and that you want to do, don’t), and a few other things. I’ll try to pick those up at a later date, but in the meantime this primer will help you get your feet wet without making a damn fool of yourself. Much. It’s all lessons I learned the hard way, so do better than me and remember we’re all works in progress.)
(I don’t think I realized the courage my grandparents had in coming to this country until now. My grandfather fought Communism in China, only to face the Chinese Exclusion Act here. My uncles became “paper sons” to get here. My grandmother was told not to come to parent-teacher night because of her accent. My grandparents couldn’t buy a house in most neighborhoods, because they weren’t white. And that was legal.
American tried to #BanThis family, but three generations on I’m still here. And to the new Americans and refugees and DREAMers and greencard-holding permanent residents already affected by recent policy changes, this is your country too.