I enjoy watching movies at home rather than at the cinema, and so recently I saw “Selma” produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. More often than not, I start dozing off fifteen minutes into the DVD and have to stop it, close my eyes for fifteen minutes and then go back. However, this movie left me mesmerized from beginning to end. It is not that it is such an exceptional production. It isn’t. However, the subject matter and the juxtapositioning of the real life footage with the acting was very moving. I was watching actual events that took place in my lifetime; events that are historical, tragic and part of the fabric of this American nation with all its complexities and many facets.
The murders of Malcolm X – mentioned in the movie – and Martin Luther King, Jr. – the movie only portrayed the historical march and not King’s murder – are two tragic events of that era. The signing of the Voting Rights Act by President Johnson was a milestone that was cheered not only in the United States, but celebrated by progressives across the world as one more victory for the downtrodden, the marginalized, the defamed and the colonized.
Watching this movie just several weeks after I had finished reading “Island Beneath the Sea” by the incredible Isabel Allende, “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom, and “Too Proud to Bend” by Nell Braxton Gibson left me feeling elated on the one hand, and extremely sad on the other. Elated, because any story about the triumphs of Black people, their resilience, pride and courage leaves me breathless with awe. And sad, because of all the tragedies, pain and humiliations that they had to endure. The three mentioned books will inspire and infuriate you. Naturally, being Palestinian, is one more reason for my tears to pour out as I identified with many of the atrocious experiences.
However, and especially as I was watching “Selma,” I realized that here we are fifty plus years after those shattering events, shedding our tears, getting infuriated and indignant all over again about the same bloody issues! How can this be? How is it possible? How and why is it still acceptable?
From Selma to Ferguson and on and on and on and on . . !
How long does it take for police brutality and discrimination, for bigotry and racism to change? What is it going to take for a people to be allowed to vote without restrictions, redistricting and hurdles? What will it take for Black Lives to Matter? Really Matter? How many more like Tamir Rice and all the other victims need to die before every George Wallace-like politician and policeman, every judge and bigot in this country is brought to Justice?
Indigenous people, Black Americans, Palestinians and so many others still victims to this day of a colonist, racist mentality continue to suffer daily and hourly, while our colonizers skew the Truth, Manipulate the Events and make us out to be the Aggressors. How can this be? How loudly can any people cry before Justice and Equality are wielded?
I do not have an answer. But, what I do know is that we do not have any other recourse than to continue resisting, protesting, writing and publicizing the Facts and hoping that eventually Truth and Fairness Will Prevail and the Law Will Triumph.
On January 18 as we commemorate the great and unforgettable Martin Luther King, Jr on his dedicated Day let us all strive, work and hope for Our Freedoms, Our Justice and Our Equality to prevail as the Ray Conniff singers give this beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan’s famous song: Blowin in The Wind and, especially, these two lines:
How Many Years Can Some People Exist
Before They’re Allowed To Be Free?