On Sunday, October 17 I went to see MOUNTAINS THAT TAKE WING, a documentary that featured "conversations between Angela Davis, an internationally re-knowned scholar-activist, and 88 year old Yuri Kochiyama, a revered grassroots community activist and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee." It was held at the Brooklyn Campus of Long island University. I went to see this film with my Titi (aunt) Nellie. It was a wonderful educational experience and seeing it with my aunt made it even more special.
Through the intimacy and depth of conversations, which span 13 years, we learn about Davis' and Kochyama's shared experiences as political prisoners and their profound passion for justice. But we also see a humanity, an intimacy, a "regularness" (if you will) to these powerful women. They were laughing and joking, sometimes struggling for words. Kochiyama was sitting on her bed and Davis sat across from her in what seemed like a revolutionary pajama party I was so blessed to be part of, even if virtually. It was great to see them in this relaxexd setting.
After the show, I reiterated this to my aunt "it was so good to see them in that way, in such an intimate setting." I am so used to seeing these women in posters, t-shirts, MY OWN TOPS AND JACKETS, in iconic stance, powerful, confident. The kind of woman I want to be. My Titi Nellie said, "well you finally humanized them." That really grabbed my attention, "I finally humanized them." She was right. Davis and Kochiyama ARE regular people just like you and me. Regular people have the potential to be activists, to speak up, to advocate. Hmmm. Perceiving these iconic people solely through their images on posters and t shirts does them a diservice. They lived radical regular lives in order to inspire us to do the same.
We watched Yuri and Angela in conversation and this led to my Titi and I having a conversation. My aunt is another outspoken women who grew up in th 60s and 70s. She has always been one of the stronger women in my family, she lived by her own rules, didn't bow down to convention. I always longed to be like her; worldly, knowing, sophisitcated. As we sat down to dinner at a restaurant on 91st, she shared a lot with me. I'm not a little girl anymore so our relationship is more on a peer level now. She was vulnerable and raw. I guess I too made her into an iconic figure of liberation in my life. I romanticized her into being something she in reality wasn't always. She also became more human to me that night. And that's a good thing. Seeing Angela's, Yuri's, and my Titi's vulnerability made me want to strive more too. Made me want to work out my own style of activism and liberation in my own vulnerable, regular way. Now they have become even more powerful in my eyes.
Tomorrow I will talk about what I learned through the film. Some little known revolutionary facts. Stay tuned.