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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

10 Things I think...The Photograph- A Review of Sorts

So I went to see "The Photograph" starring Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield with two people that ooze love. They're both quite concerned with the happiness of my heart. They are romantics in their own. While I don't openly identify as a romantic, I dabble a bit. Here are some of my takeaways.

1. Some of y'all don't know how to provide a thoughtful critique on movies. Just three weeks ago, y'all was saying Tyler Perry's Disgrace (A Fall From Grace) was a masterpiece. Perhaps it's true that we are attracted to movies with Black trauma. There wasn't any trauma to be found. It was beautiful dark Black love. And it was long overdue.

2. Black women have complex relationships with our mothers. This movie made me consider who or what teaches Black girls how to be women. Indubitably, we look to our mothers and aunties nem to create and shape our narratives on womanhood. In this movie, her mother is sort of aloof, never able to fill the silicone form of motherhood Issa's character had created. What happens when our mothers don't tell us? This movie reminded me to give more grace to Carol. I'm sure that womanhood thing is hard for her, still. Perhaps the best example of Black womanhood that you can give your daughter is to let her see you in good health. And I mean far beyond physical health, but healthy relationships with yourself and others, too.

3. Black men look damn good dressed in all Black. Honey, LaKeith. There's also something about a Black man keeping on his gold necklace even after he's disrobed. I like to think it gives them the strength of the Black Panther. (It's impossible to not say that like Chadwick).

4. I was perplexed the entire movie because I couldn't figure out if I was more like Issa's character or her mother. I'm a big dreamer and for what it's worth- I'm a dream chaser. Moving across the country with absolutely no connections in place in DC to pursue a dream was terrifying. Best decision I made yet besides ending my relationship with bras that have underwire. Either way, I am relentless in the pursuit of what I want.

5. I abhor long-distance relationships. It's funny that I keep attracting them. It's almost like God is trying to teach me some lesson on this but I keep failing the test. I'm sure God is palm to face daily about my life. I think they're painful. I also don't think I'm particularly good at them. It's like that one word that you want to write in your papers because you think it makes you sound smart but you know you won't pronounce it right so you avoid it. I like the idea of distance because it makes the time together so much more intentional. BUT. CHILE. I hate goodbyes.

6. Issa's character yells, "Long-distance relationships don't work" and I applaud heavily in the theater. I'm alone in my applause, but I fear that they don't. I cry in airports. I cry on trains. I cry in cars. I hate leaving St. Louis every time I visit. Of course, I like getting back to my bed and privacy. (Y'all know Carol is no respecter of privacy). But every time I sit at my gate, I am overwhelmed. I know I'll likely see these people again and thanks to Al Gore's internet, I can FaceTime them. That is not the same as a hug when you're sad. Or a forehead kiss from my partner. AND I value face-to-face contact. I love being able to watch my human laugh or tear up during a movie. Anything, but goodbye. I'm terrible at good-bye. I've said too many of them. And truthfully, I don't really like "see ya later" very much either.

7. I love Louisianna. I can't explain why. A few years ago I decided that I wanted to get married in New Orleans. It just feels good. I love that the movie is set there. Something about the brassy instruments, red beans on Mondays, the dialect, the culture, the art, the vigor for life, the vibrant colors. New Orleans feels like love wrapped up in a destination. Weeping willow trees and footwork and second lines. I love all of that.

8. In the movie, Issa's mother loves a blue-collar, small-town loving, no-frills fisherman. He's comfortable with his life. He knows it. He knows how to provide, he knows simplicity, he knows Louisianna. Issa's mother, on the other hand knows she wants more than that quiet Louisianna life can provide. She also doesn't allow herself to fully love him because she's been socialized to believe that she needs to expect more. This narrative is so familiar to me. As a career woman (whatever the hell that means) I am often told and prescribed what type of man I should be looking for. He's often a lawyer, doctor, businessman or engineer. He's got financial flexibility and he is well-traveled and whatnot. This is who folks try to hook me up with. While I think your cousins nem are great, perhaps we need to expand the conversation on what to look for in a partner to begin with how they treat you. A few weeks ago, my mother talked me through this. She said there are a lot of folks who married for financial security who aren't treated well. This can't be life. I'll take a blue-collar, honest, God-fearing, simplicity focused, great co-parent over the ability to designate us a "power couple". If power equated to dollars, perhaps the folks with all the money would be happier. I have been told multiple times to find a man with money. I know the advice was rooted in trying to keep me from a life of financial struggle. But, it's harmful sometimes. I remember when my previous relationship was on the fringes, a family member told me not to walk away from his earning potential. There was little regard for the health of my heart. The feeding of my soul. Folks were less concerned about his inability to be truthful than his ability to generate wealth.

9. The narrative on fatherhood in this movie is a beautiful one. There are multiple Black men who by virtue of biology or choice were great lovers of Black women. It was beautiful to see LaKeith's brother played by Lil Rel as such an emotionally in-tuned, thoughtful husband, father, and brother. I needed this. The reminder that Black men can and have been amazing rocks for many Black women.

10. On a serious note... go see this beautiful Black film. Outside of a kinda cliffhanger ending, I enjoyed every second, every camera angle and every character. Issa is gorgeous. LaKeith looks like years of childcare and regrets. Just FINE AS HELL.

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