My sister shared some things with me today about her experience of watching the major television event, Roots, in the 70s. A bit before my time (I watched it much later), she can vividly remember that other black families would come over to our little house when it was on. It brought people together. And its notable that she can recall the role and performance of one woman in particular.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the impact of the great Cicely Tyson extended to these shores as great Artists transcend their geography. A standard bearer for excellence, the significance of her complexion is equally as relevant as her talent and honed craft. The things that my sister believed about herself had much to do with what she was taught and not taught by the world she inhabited. The making and unmaking starts very early. So when she watched Ms Tyson on screen she saw her kin. Though culturally different, a woman as dark and beautiful as she was, with an undeniable presence. Not what they told her at school. You don’t learn and unlearn who you are every February. The work to excavate one’s true worth is a daily endeavour, and inspiration can take the form of a book you read or a great actress lighting up the screen with grace and extraordinary command. It’s not baiting to testify. It also doesn’t edify to be silent on things that matter to people and how they percieve themselves. The seeds that Ms Tyson sowed on her journey as an actress have produced fruit in many fields of imagination. That’s something worthy of acknowledgement alongside her illustrious body of work that lives. Continuity in life and what one hopes for in the aftermath is to have served purpose in time. The rest and restitution is deep and dark waters and the light hovers over it.