FEMINIST FRIDAY: ‘(In)Visible Portraits’ Documentary Sharing The Stories Of Black Women To Debut On Juneteenth

Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday! This week we are focusing our column on the voices and stories of Black women, especially in light of our promise to amplify the work of Melanated women. As the country continues to see protests and national conversations about police brutality and systemic racism, many of us are learning that we each have a role to play in changing the status quo from white supremacy to equality and justice for all.

With that in mind, this week we have three amazing videos to share with you. The first is the trailer for debut documentary director Oge Egbuonu, based in Los Angeles. ‘(In)Visible Portraits’ “shatters the too-often invisible otherizing of Black women in America and reclaims the true narrative as told in their own words. The film illuminates the history of how we got here, dismantles the false framework of the present-day reality, celebrates the extraordinary heritage of exceptional Black women, and ignites hope for the next generation,” says the description on the website.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Oge says this film is her “love letter to Black women”.

“This is me saying, ‘I hear you. I see you, and you matter’,” she told VF’s Julie Miller.

‘(In)Visible Portraits’ will premiere on Vimeo for purchase on June 19, which is timely given that is also Juneteenth, the annual celebration and observance of the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, dating back to 1865. This year it will be especially contentious given Trump is scheduled to hold the first of his post-COVID rallies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of one of the deadliest race riots in American history in 1921.

Filmmaker Oge says for her, the film is also about bringing voice to Black women because they are often erased or rendered less important than others, as we are seeing less of a focus on the life and death of Breonna Taylor, the 26 year-old EMT who was murdered by police in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I think her case plays into what the film is about, which has been this erasure of Black women, whether it’s in society or white supremacy or in comparison to Black men. It’s quite perplexing, in a way, to see how there’s so much rage around George Floyd, as there should be, all the rage that happened with Ahmaud Arbery, as it should be. Then Breonna Taylor, it was so much rage for a few days…and then she was kind of forgotten. Whether it’s because there was video or not, her death still happened, and it plays into this narrative of the erasure of Black women that is so unfortunate because her life mattered, her life meant something. Even with this documentary, we personally have vowed to make sure that her name isn’t forgotten, that her case isn’t forgotten, to use every platform I can to elevate her voice, elevate her case, elevate the call that these officers are arrested,” said Oge.

Watch the trailer below and be sure to watch ‘(In)Visible Portraits’ starting June 19 on Vimeo on demand, and iTunes, Amazon and Roku in the following months.

The second video this week was captured by a young woman who is part of the Global Girl Media organization, which engages teen girls around the world to become journalists and filmmakers in order to spark social change. In their latest newsletter (which you should subscribe to immediately!) they shared some brief stories from Black girls around the world as they witness this tipping point with #BlackLivesMatter protests happening globally.

“GlobalGirl Media stands in solidarity with the global Black community and Black Lives Matter, and joins the demands for justice and liberation. Racism is the real pandemic. Our hearts grieve for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery and the countless other lives lost or threatened due to police violence, brutality, murder. As of this writing, 50 States and 20 countries are taking part in the #endpoliceviolence #BlackLivesMatter #racialjustice #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd #restinpower protests, making it the largest human rights movement in history. The GlobalGirl Media leadership are taking a knee so our GlobalGirls can speak. Founded on amplifying and privileging their voices, now, more than ever what they have to say matters, and will make a difference for all our lives,” says the organization.

One young woman named Hiyab made a 4 minute documentary about the Los Angeles protests and shares her own emotions about this moment in history.

“It’s been really traumatic, to say the least. But two things have given me hope: the systemic changes that we are starting to see slowly happen as a response to our demands, and the black women who have always been the backbones, stepping into their rights as the leaders. They’ve brought me hope, and they’ve brought me healing,” she said. Watch her video below, and be sure to follow Global Girl Media for more of their wonderful work.

The final video this week is a celebration of voices in remembrance of the lives of Black women who are no longer with us due to murder by the hands of police or others. Our friend Solonje Burnett, co-founder of Humble Bloom, is a leader in the Cannabis community along with her partner Danniel Swatosh and she is also a member of the Resistance Revival Chorus. As the second weekend of protests happened around the country, Solonje and the RRC performed in Washington Square Park, NYC, on Saturday June 6, a song called #SayHerName by Abby Dobson.

“Sharing the stage with my @resistancerevivalchorus sistren on Saturday was transformational. This call for recognition by Abby Dobson permeates though by bones releasing my soul’s fear and sadness around the continued erasure of Black girls and womxn. In this movement and in life we are forgotten. Not only are our brothers, cousins, fathers, and husbands stolen from us, but we too have our dreams looted and lives cut short. Still no justice for womxn like #BreonnaTaylor #IyannaDior and countless other unnamed sisters. The silence is deafening. Thank you Abby for allowing us to hear in song what I’ve been feeling for so long. Just waiting for the world to catch up. Black sis, I see you. I hear you. You matter,” writes Solonje in a blog post on the Humble Bloom site.

As you watch the video below, filmed by Danniel Swatosh, let us always remember the names of the black women and girl whose lives have been taken away or erased by a system that has decided they don’t matter. Let us be the change in amplifying their voices and stories, and may we always be championing the women and girls around us.

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