Today is a conflicted day. Today marks the one year anniversary since 270 Nigerian girls were abducted by Boko Haram. 39 of those Chibok girls have escaped, but over 200 girls are still missing. As the world questions is the Nigerian government doing enough to rescue the remaining girls, I am asking am I enough.
Today is also the day that I birthed my daughter & BMH (Babymamahood). It is Zi's 8th year anniversary & the site's 1 year anniversary.
As a mother to a black girl, I feel conflicted in our celebration. Motherhood is challenging. But, to be a mother & not have the ability to have your child, or know where they are is frightening & just fucked up. The isolation & loneliness these mothers must feel for their birth story— carry a child to term, to raise said child, & to lose them to uncertainty is so unfair, to say the least.
And then, the current narrative around black people & the police... On average, every day a black person loses their life to a white police officer.
Today, I am afraid to say that I am fortunate to have my daughter. I get to see her everyday. I have the privilege to know where she is & have a say to where she is going. I am also tired, like spiritually tired.
With the help of my brother, I created this short documentary.
This narrative was shot when Zi was about six years old. I was working full time & I felt absent as a parent. I worked full time as a teacher & organizer. I came home late, & I did not want to make dinner, or clean anything, or help with homework. But, I had too. I had to be there for my daughter bc no one else could or would. The love I feel as a parent is inescapable, but it is also grounded in the reality that I must create an independent child. My level of presence can only be for so long, or for so much. I have to work, to put food on the table, to write. I must love myself, so that I can love my daughter. I must let her go.
This shit is hard. I want to be by her & watch her every move, protect her. But, that isn't realistic or fair...
I am sorry for those of us who feel incomplete bc of how life keeps taking from us. I am sorry for the parents who let go of their children so that that they could go to school or wherever & don’t make it back.
I will pray for the safety of our children by being present for my own. That is the only way I know how to live.
Artistic Statement on Girl Searches for Herself:
Is a depiction of a six year girl getting ready for school by herself. In her head, her mother is somewhere. In theory, the girl’s mother is at work. Snippets of her mother’s presence can be seen by the brief notes she leaves her daughter as the girl gets ready for school. There is an uncertainty happening. The short film is full of questions. “Where is her mother?” “Is the child too young to be alone?” But more importantly, who are the girls confronted with their loneliness bc of their independence. Independence for women isn’t something that is fairly easy to accept. In a Christian & Islamic society, girls are expected to stay under the rule of their fathers, until they are married & then they’re supposed to follow the rule of their husbands. But, in a society where feminism is fetishized as an ideal where women should be allowed to express their femininity as they see fit, the questions begs, what about us, the ones in the trenches of poverty, homelessness, food deserts, poor education, & single parent families, what about those of us who been independent, but uncelebrated, unrecognized bc necessity isn’t glamourous, unless you gave up your picket fenced, suburban motherhood barbie depiction of motherhood, & decided to do the “revolutionary” thing & work & not have kids. But, this film is NOT political. It is practical. It is a child who knows how to wake up & start her own day despite her mother’s absences. It is a child being raised to be independent, out of necessity. It is a mother using creativity, trying to forge connections with her absence & her daughter. It is about being as a voice. It is about a mother letting her go, so that her daughter knows how to survive with herself as the guide. It is also political.
Jhené Aiko had no parts in making this video. This song is used as my own artistic license.