An Open Letter to the Oscars.
Dear Academy. I love the Oscars. As a child viewer my soul was sparked, and I credit the Oscars with renewing my dream as a filmmaker year after year. This year things changed for me. I still loved the films, dresses, performances, and acceptance speeches; but as I watched there was a growing unease within me. So much wealth. So much power. So MUCH, when a billion have so LITTLE, and several million Americans are barely hanging on by a thread. Now don't get me wrong. I do NOT blame Hollywood for this. And I know and respect the incredible generosity and commitment so many folks in the biz make to charity and our communities. And I enjoyed Patricia's plea, Neil's subtle references to this very subject, and John and Common's speeches about our 'oneness.' I loved all the families that were thanked, because, really, which successful person do you know who made it without the support of loved ones...but I felt inadequate, frustrated, a bit ashamed. And I couldn't help but wonder if it is time for an Oscar shift. An Oscar re-design? What if every Oscar dress was donated and auctioned for a worthy cause and the stars talked about that on the red carpet? What if, instead of gift bags containing luxury items, meals for the homeless were purchased in the winner's names, and what if all the pre-shows and after parties had a direct link into a local American or global need (non-profit please!) Perhaps you think me naive or foolish for appearing to bite the hand I want to be fed by, but I know I'm not alone. I know others share my belief that wealth and fame is a great thing (and not everyone pines for a Ferrari) but the 1% is acceptable only if the bottom 15% can eat and be sheltered from the storm. Perhaps you think that the Oscars is the wrong moment for this kind of connection and gesture but when 43+ million are looking you might want to seize the day. I promise you I will still watch and google and twit and sigh but I will also feel pride and value that instead of having a Hunger Games moment we had a Pay It Forward moment instead.
I've been thinking of what to say for 2015. Really, what can I say that hasn't already been said? That we need things to change, that the systems aren't working, that our priorities need to SHIFT...duh....
Everyone I meet knows on a cellular level that something major is happening here. But we're all just trying to survive. In whatever way we can. So what can I say? Well, alright, if you know me, you know I always have something to say. So for the two cents it may be worth here goes....
THIS IS IT. Right HERE. Right NOW. THE SHIFT. We are IN it. Can you feel how fast time is moving? Do you see how so many folks are changing up their lives; leaving relationships, changing jobs, moving, leaving....Do you see how many are dying and how many are suffering?
This is the moment to DECIDE. Who are you? What do you want? Where is your passion? Which train do you want to board? DECIDE. Because if you wait too long to decide you may miss your train. That's how fast we are moving.
We are in a splitting prism. CHOOSE the kind of world you want to live in. The one where tolerance and diversity is celebrated as an expression of the ONE, where no one get to invade another person's body for any reason without their permission, where the good of the all supersedes the wealth of the non-entity OR a world where one faction's opinions rule, where super powers get to make the plan, where the will of the people are ignored and manipulated, where things dead end.
Which world is YOURS? Once you decide all you need do is to follow your excitement in whatever way you can with what is available to you at the time, and be kind, to yourself and to all you meet.
Happy New Year. May 2015 bring you peace and goodness and hope. Love phiAMMA
My partner and I were watching The Angriest Man in Brooklyn with Robin Williams, and when we turned off the film and got online we saw that he had died. For a moment we couldn't believe the synchronicity! We were stunned. But then our thoughts turned to this beautiful man, this light warrior soul, and we sent out our thanks to him for his service, his creation of so much laughter and feeling, and a prayer of peace for his family and loved ones. And then Lauren Bacall left too. I was heart broken. My earliest memories are watching the films of the 1940's and the 1950's where Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and all the first real wave of movie stars, shone. I wanted a long satin dress so badly I could taste it, and heels, with a flurry of feathers on them! Lauren literally blew me away and I've often quoted her famous line about whistling. That was one classy dame. And then I real-ized that these amazing souls were just switching over to a 'behind the curtain' position for their second act. I hope they 'break a few legs' on every level......I bow to you.
An Open Letter to my Nigerian Daughters Still Missing On Mother's Day
by Phiamma Elias
You do not know me. I am an American woman; a mother of two boys, a wife, a sister, a friend, a daughter. I love my children. I love all the children. All of them. I love you. I want you to know that I am thinking of you. I am carrying you in my heart and prayers. I am in ceremony with you, holding this time of your suffering close to my being, knowing that these days MATTER. So although I am grateful for my two beautiful sons, who took a moment out of their day to tell me they love me and to express appreciation, who have been raised as the kind of men who would lay their lives on the line to stop your pain if they were with you; and for the women who are my family and sisters with whom I am honored to share the journey and responsibility of Motherhood, and to my Elders to whom I expressed my gratitude for their journey and wisdom, I am not far from you.
Today I take time for you, only you, to say: I am sorry from the core of my being that this is the world you live in; a world where so many of you can simply be taken and hurt and abused and treated with the kind of behavior that may only be permissible in the presence of true defense of the vulnerable...but only to get away, and inflicting the minimal possible harm.
I am sorry that you are frightened and devastated and amazed and fierce and losing your minds so that you can simply survive another hour.
I am with you. I am here.
I am sorry that you are female and that you are subject to these horrible males, who are not true men, who somehow, in their twisted justification and belief system, think on some level of their being that this...is...acceptable.
I pray that there are individuals who are doing for you what they can, as victims in their own right, who may be deathly afraid of being hurt or killed and so they comply. I pray for their safety as well.
I pray for your families. That we can bring you home for them. That this horror shifts in such extraordinary ways....
I pray that the whole world, every country who has the means, will collaborate together to creatively bring their best and elite experts together to find a way to you, to find a way to you. I pray that we re-cognate, recognize, globally, that we are ONE planet, one community, one citizenry, and that we CHOOSE to be united in a basic level of humanity goodness and
planet care, that will permit us ALL to have goodness, safety, food, pure water, a safe roof, access; and that NO ONE EVER AGAIN CAN INTERFERE WITH YOUR PHYSICAL BODY IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE WITHOUT YOUR ABSOLUTE INFORMED PERMISSION.
I am with you today. I will not turn my mind away from the image of you being held down and hurt and raped. I will not turn my mind away from the image of you watching your sister and friend being hurt and being absolutely not able to stop her pain. I will not turn away from your blood.
I am with you. I am with you.
I want you to know that I am not alone. I want you to know that there are many others, male and female, who are thinking of you, praying for you. So many of us. Truly, who are doing what we can, with what is available to us in the moment. To cry out. To say how f---ing angry we are. To share our grief.
We are with you. We love you. We thank you. We honor you. We bow to the strength of WHO YOU ARE.. to lovingly gift all of us on EARTH, our only home, the REMINDER, the RE-MEMBER.ance that 'what happens to one of us, happens to all of us.'
I am with you. Please come home.
Your 'Auntie', Mother, Sister, Friend, h-EARThling, who loves you...with no strings attached.
You are mine.