Dear Lord (Goddess, Supreme Being, Allah),
The 2015 Emmy Awards will be remembered fondly by many. Not for the hosts’, Andy Samberg, acknowledgment of white privilege, Olive Kitteridge’s wins or Jon Hamm’s stage mount, but for the moment when we began to believe that tv excellence really mattered and would be acknowledged regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. A moment so grand, it felt like all nine tectonic plates beneath the earth moved on cue.
“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Hensons and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you. —Viola Davis’ Acceptance Speech
Lord, at first I tried to push out of my mind an assumed white privilege, if just for a moment, of glee, joy, just bliss with no trepidation or concern for the million and one things with which POC are weighted. No thought about how broad my smile was, how it would make others feel, what it said about my inner dialogue, no consideration for others, just my appreciation for Viola, a woman whose excellence was finally recognized. A black woman who looked like me. A woman who spoke with bravado in her voice, which I know did not come easily. A woman whose confidence has likely been called arrogance, aggressive, angry. A woman whose gifts, presence and win aggrieved if not shocked much of the audience.
Lord, after the show, after the tweets, after the vines and after the twitter check of that soap opera actress, what I am left with is hope, gratitude and a need for introspection and protection.
Lord, thank you for Viola and her gifts. In less than two minutes she transported us to a time long ago when another one of your soldiers dared to dream and do. In her words the black woman’s journey was clear, from Tubman to Union, and the importance of support was sisters was as evident as the erasure of the line!
Lord, Viola Davis did not have a letter of introduction to this entertainment world where there is far less than six degrees of separation to success, so thank you for blessing and preparing her for her journey.
Lord, I know I am a work in progress so bear with me here. Am I the only one that noticed the stunned near silence and lack of a standing ovation for this momentous moment? Even the applause felt like it was given begrudgingly. I know you are proud of this serious woman of character and Julliard pedigree.
- This woman who rolled bit parts on countless television shows and films into a career.
- This woman who Denzel Washington said, “made him up his game in Fences”.
- This woman who spun straw into gold and an Oscar nomination in Doubt, in a scene with THE Meryl Streep.
- This woman whose portrayal of Aibileen Clark grounded and gave flight to Help.
- This woman who unmasked herself, wig and all, to show her true beauty.
Lord please wrap Viola, Regina, Uzo and Reg in your embrace tonight and protect them from the onslaught of praise, indeed adulation, that they will no doubt encounter, some of which maybe disingenuous, as they move forward on this journey. Their tables will continue to grow and flow over with new offers and invitations, ground them with all the gravitas and discernment they need and use their light to bury the divide so deep that no generation will ever experience it again.
Lord, let this be a watershed moment that washes away any doubt of the importance of this movement towards equality. Above all else, guide us in using this moment to build momentum so that any capitalistic yearning to use this moment as a style or pendulum swing for a season, or as seedling for an empire in which we have no stake, like the CW did not that long ago (UPN merged with The WB to form The CW), will be avoided.
Lord, stir-up the courage of your creative beings to birth projects small and large from blogs to movies and networks; I know we often don’t think or dream big enough for the gifts you bless us with so guide us. Let these projects feed us with love so that we can heal wounds that echo our ancestors’ pain and our unique brokenness in the twenty-first century.
Lord let us all, POC and those with white privilege, understand the struggle and if we won’t help, please let us not be obstructionists any longer. Remind us, your children, that this struggle is connected to so many others, and though we should all believe in intersectionality, you did not create us, your miracle beings, to willingly help and step aside for those who fear or are unwilling to see your light in us.
Lord, Father God, help us not to focus on the firsts or the number of awards tonight but on the work left to do. Let all who read or encounter this prayer remember to encourage the creatives in their lives: visit their blogs, listen to their podcasts, go to their shows, try their savory and sweet goods, buy their art and let it all bring light, love and healing into lives and hearts.
As I close this prayer, Lord thank you for bringing us this moment and preparing us for the next…
*If you know the artist of this work, black woman praying, please let me know.