The committee that judged the contest made a comment that the characters in my script seemed to be working class, yet they did not seem to be struggling with issues like foreclosure and other such things. The characters I portray are indeed working class, but I have portrayed them as people who live within their means and live comfortably enough to get by. I’m asking myself, why is that so hard for some people to believe? When looking at Blue Valentine, I see a white working class couple, but they don’t seem to be struggling either. In fact, they take a vacation from their child in order to mend the broken pieces of their marriage. Where was their struggle to pay the bills or buy the groceries? Or do we need not worry about that and let white couples go through emotional turmoil even when they aren’t wealthy?
I remember reading or hearing something Julie Dash said about people expecting to see the Peazant family in her film Daughters of the Dust toiling away on Sunday. (She also mentioned that she resented people only wanting to hear the choir sing rather than see these black women running a church in this militaristic fashion in Funny Valentines.) This makes me think: why do people always feel that the lives of the working class, especially the black working class, can only be marked by physical struggle in day to day life?
My script is essentially a love story focused on a woman unhappy in her marriage but afraid to leave it. I have to ask myself if my protagonist were wealthy and/or white, would it make it easier to swallow that she struggles with matters of the heart in her daily life. Is she supposed to put her emotions, feelings and desires on hold because she has to work for a living?
Think about this: how many stories do we see that focus on a black woman negotiating the role of a secure love in her life? I don’t mean struggling with her sexuality but everything else that comes with it. Why is it so hard to deal with a black woman who may put on a uniform for her pay in terms of personal desires and matters of the heart? If we fall into that majority of people who do not come under the category of millionaire or even wealthy, are we to be defined solely by our means of survival and divorce it from the rest of that intangible part of our humanity?
I consider myself working class because I live from month to month, barely have savings (definitely not enough to get by if I lose my job) and have no other signs of wealth. Right now, I choose to be alone because I am focusing on my work and my art. I don’t know if I’ll ever be on the lookout for companionship or a significant other. Love is hard and I don’t know if I can handle the complications right now. But what about other women like me who actively seek love to keep and honestly believe they can find a special someone to make that hand-to-mouth life just a little easier? Do they not deserve their own stories?