On November 12, 2016 after two Trump protests, tremendous social and political discord, Facebook binges, and political conversations among family, friends, and coworkers, I needed inspiration and my faith in humanity restored. The irony is that this isn't the worst thing going on in the world, but it's my reality, and frankly, the worst thing happening for many Americans. So it should not be overlooked, denied, or diminished.
On this day, I asked my Instagram and Facebook friends this:
"I'm starting a video documentary project with the title: My Story My USA.
In a short and sweet selfie vid or film method of your choice, tell me what social issues have plagued you and what you won't accept or tolerate for that reason.
I'm doing this project in the midst of social unrest in the US post-election of Donald Trump.
You may have voted for him, you may not have, I don't care. I care about your particular story and it's cultural significance to society in America and the times we now live in. The upsurge in hate crimes is undeniable post-election, and if you are unawares, read about them. Aspire to leave the warmth and fuzziness or your bubble of privilege. Community, altruism, empathy, empowerment... we are one race, human. Both sexes are equally needed for progression on this earth. People are recognizing the importance of social equality. A vast majority of people try to overcome stereotypic preconceptions and unconscious biases.
That's what I want to share. That we are connected in our differences and none of them should be oppressed or silenced or denied."
Nobody sent me anything. Bothered but not willing to throw in the towel, I decided to make this project fkn happen - make it an OL December project, set a deadline, reach out to my network, and talk to people directly. Keyana was immediately on board, God bless her supportive heart.
Direct messaging the people I follow on Instagram got me 25 prospective participants. I follow 1,181 people, but going A-Z in the DM option definitely did not amount to DM'ing everyone, but I ain't got time for that. Actively talking about it with friends and one day at work (a few days before the deadline, of course) got me four more people interested. 29 total.
In the end, 12 people came through for 24 minutes of some of the best monologues I've heard in my life. I expected to have 10-15 1-2 minute videos and ended up with videos averaging 2-3 minutes. I learned a lot about the process of activating and calling people into action. I was humbled and frustrated by people's non-engagement, delighted by people's interest and immediate response, and respectful of people's discomfort with the topic and busy lives.
The level of self-awareness of the the people who admired the project but didn't want to participate struck me. Identity politics and the current political climate are obviously sensitive and complex topics. They require reflection and knowing oneself and society and the interplay between the two to be able to speak on comfortably (much less in front of a camera, alone). Most people don't. People are constantly in the process of coming to terms with their own socio-political views and understanding and accepting themselves and their background. I respect that, but I wonder when they will be ready. Personal acceptance is not my territory, maybe I'll address it another month because I do have a lot to say on it. However, I will say this - people have not come to terms with their "stand" on issues because it's frankly not a necessity that they do. THIS is an issue. This is the reason we have low voter turn out and socio-political ignorance and apathy. I'm not blaming the people, I'm blaming society determined by mass media and government. There's no emphasis on understanding the powers that determine every citizen's life, which is confusing and illogical to say the least and leads me to believe that voter ignorance is a product of a giant scheme.
I was also struck by one standpoint: "not sure how I can pull this one off without seeming like a self-pitying beneficiary of extreme white privilege." This also shows extreme self-awareness as well as bums me out (hurts me). White men do everything, not all, but they have most of the power, get the most types of girls, and get away with the most shit. I whole heartedly believe that when in a place of privilege, privilege should be harnessed and used for greater good. I have my reasons for being altruistic; it makes the most sense to me, but it's also not a necessity to be like this and use privilege in this way. Nobody says you have to. You have to learn to want to... but this will change the world. We have nearly become numbed by "Change" the word and concept as though we were all promised something big, walked up to it with wide, sparkling eyes and hands outstretched ready to receive only to be slapped left and right, pantsed, and flung poo, scurrying away with our pants around our ankles. This is funny to me. How many times in our lives do things not go "right"? How many times does the economy crash? How many times do start-ups fail? How many times do we think we're utterly screwed just to wake up the next day to a fresh start with eyes to the sky? And how many times have we triumphed after a big Fail? I believe in the law of change; I am a woman of science and I know that we (humans) are here because of change. Our lives and life itself is sustainable because of change. I can't make people want to change the world, but I will preach til death do us part. Hopefully somebody that doesn't already agree with me will listen.
I hope that everybody enjoys the video. I organized it like this:
Feminism and women empowerment, sexual assault and violence, sexism/ racism (Asian pov), sexism/ racism (Black pov), minorities and equal opportunity, hate and violence in the media, acceptance of fake news and lies, 2016 election and politics, male/female friendships, age and social pressure, self-reflection and self-confrontation leading to change.
Thank you to all participants. Keyana, Olivia, Nicole, Olivia, Sabas, Natalie, Maggie, Marshall, Nik, Jacky, and Andrew. You guys are so amazing.