My thoughts on the Movie Respect

At its core Respect is about black trauma, the things we don’t talk about and the things we tell ourselves to survive.

Respect is the new movie about Aretha Franklin Portrayed by Jennifer Hudson in theaters and available to stream on various platforms.  

After watching this movie I wanted to share my thoughts.  Here is a quick video I shared on my YouTube channel 

I wanted the video to be my thoughts without any outside influences so I made it without reading any reviews.  Now that I have done a little research I want to talk about the movie some more.

This New York Times review closely echoed my thoughts as did the one from the New Yorker and another from Roger and Ebert.

If you can read any of these reviews, I encourage you to read the New York Times Piece because it was written by black woman.  I could immediately tell that it was written by a black woman because it contained a compassion and understanding that could only come from being a black woman.  In the coming days there will be many more articles and videos pointing out the glaring omissions from the movie and the fact that this is most likely due to the fact that Aretha closely guarded her public image.  Most people will see that as a flaw but some of us will immediately understand.

In this post I do not want to talk about whether Jennifer Hudson gave us a great performance or even whether this was a great movie.  Instead let’s talk about this movie as a reflection of the black experience. (Side note: quick mention I haven’t been able to write for months and this is just pouring out of me) 

You see being a black woman is inherently traumatic and we all deal with it in certain ways.  When I watched this movie I saw a woman struggling and coping in ways that were similar to me and it spoke to my soul. Rationally I can think how it would be a much better movie if it went into detail of Aretha’s trauma.  If it told us that she had her first child at 12.  If it showed us her siblings hiding from her parents fighting instead of it being a quick anecdote shared among siblings.  However deep in my heart and soul I understand why it could never be this way.  Somehow by not addressing these problems but just moving on with the story this became much more powerful because this is what so many of us do.  Something bad happens, we just keep moving on.

How many of us have been told “ it’s in the past”, “let it go”, “move on” and other such phrases when we bring up past trauma? How early do we learn to ignore our pain? How many of us find a safe space to unpack our trauma and learn to heal instead of carrying it with us until we crumble? Personally I can tell you that almost every time I have brought up past trauma it has led to even more trauma because I need to just let it go etc.  As someone who always tries to “be good” and present my best side to the public, this has been quite difficult.

In the end I think we need to use this movie first to talk about the domestic violence, child rape, mental healt and substance abuse in the black community. Personally I just want to talk about the hairstyles in the movie and the importance of hair to a black woman because I think it would just be THE BEST!

However I think we need  to use this movie to create awareness of the need to create a society where black women feel the need to be perfect all the time.  We can talk about telling black women it’s ok to be flawed etc but until we create a society where showing your flaws in public doesn’t feel like social and career suicide many black women will continue to suffer in silence while preserving their public image of confidence and perseverance.

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