Yesterday on NPR, I listened to an interview with Director Steve McQueen. He was there to promote five standalone films that he created and premiered on Amazon Primetime called the ‘Small Axe’ Anthology. When asked why he made the films, he noted to did so because the stories he wanted to see where never told, never projected, in this case the stories of black people of West Indies decent who resided in the UK. Their stories, their realities, even the joy or struggles are almost never seen on films or tv shows. It’s almost like folks deny their existence. Deny themselves to a certain kind of truth, the compassions and triumphs of being black and of West Indies decent in the Uk. Yet people of West Indies culture are so influential in the UK. So he created the films because it was long over due. It was time for these stories to be told.
I loved listening to his interview as for some reason, I felt seen. Listening to him felt validating to me. It was as if he was speaking directly to me. Every story I write on this blog, every keep is a provocation that I want to read. I started this blog because it was time for my everyday existence to be reflected as well. There are instances where motherhood, family life, even work, as a black woman in academia is full of joy, full of triumphs, full of survival and there are times full of pain, full of one impediment after another, times full of silence. I have shared elsewhere that this duality of existence matters, our silence and survival for example and it’s worth keeping, worth focusing on. Still, I can’t help but feel unseen, undervalued, mostly by the public and why remains a big question for me. Every keep is my attempt at opening up and sharing what life truly entails. Not for likes and definitely not for shares, but so that these stories are recorded, especially now, in the middle of a pandemic, where mothers are juggling with so much. I focus on what really matters, those that help me make sense of me on a daily basis, my innermost core, one keep at a time. Listening to Steve McQueen yesterday made me feel seen.
Towards the end, he was asked why ‘Small Axe’ and he shared that he got the name from Wailers in a song popularized by Bob Marley. It’s essentially an African Proverb that states how ‘if you are the big tree, we are the small axes sharpened to cut you down.’ To McQueen, as a collective, though we maybe small, together we are strong. I really like this proverb. Though motherhood may not be valued as it should, though our stories, all of it, the moments of joy, moments of survival, moments of pain and moments of silence, our duality, are never really projected, though being a black woman in academia remains also this never ending cycle of silence and survival, I am a small axe, sharpened to cut you down. That’s all. Keep being small axes.