Letting Love Earn its Wings: The Great American Love Story

That Color Blind Kind of Love

Artwork by Kellita Wooten

It has been a few years since I’ve written an article for my blog, and it was not from wanting to write something or even having something to write, but rather, I have been caught up in a whirlwind of creativity. Since 2015, I have written and produced one feature film, Black Wall Street: The Money, The Music & The People (www.blackwallstreetthemovie.yolasite.com), one tv show drama, “The War at Home,” and now, this week, June 23-25, 2017, I am preparing for the opening night of my long-awaited play last performed publicly in 2012, That Color Blind Kind of Love.

I am producing and creating, so I should be used to public reveals, correct? No. I am not, especially not with this project because much is at stake. Inspired by the historic landmark case of Richard and Mildred Loving vs. Virginia (1967), this play re-examines the attitudes towards interracial relationships some 50 years later. Let’s be clear. The Loving case set a precedent for the legality of gay marriages and other interracial/intercultural marriage cases in the United States. It was cushioned historically between the Civil Rights Movement/Act and the Vietnam War. The Loving case is the great American love story: the fight for love and justice, a byproduct of slavery and its horrid judicial separation of love, race and class.

So why re-examine? And why use theatre to do it? Because there is an attempted ban on Muslims from this country. Because couples are still dating in secret because of religious or cultural/ethnical backgrounds. Because courts in the deep south are still refusing to marry interracial/mixed race couples. Because #BlackLivesMatter. Because #AllLivesMatter. Because hate of the “other” seems to now be the new norm. Or maybe it was always the norm.

Theatre exposes this kind of truth. It allows audiences to come into the “scene” and see it played out 10 feet or more from their hearts and eyes. The time is ripe for a play like this. Where the protagonist has to say out loud that “Love should be for whomever wants it,” and then try to fight her own family – her own definition of self – to get it and keep it. That’s what Mildred Loving did 50 years ago.

My cast and crew have been working on this play since the spring of 2016. We have performed staged readings around the city of Richmond, VA in churches and any place that would have a mix-raced cast bringing up old/new racial wounds in the name of love. And on June 23, 2017 @ 7p EST, we are taking our story LIVE in front of a paying theatre audience and in front of the world because we are streaming the production LIVE on Facebook.

And I am both terrified and excited because we are now bringing James Baldwin’s prophetic words to life:

“The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

I am an artist – a writer. But I have had to rely heavily on a team to help get the play to this moment. I have had to get a team to buy into my vision, and my team has – 100%. I have come to learn that when a thing is written, you must let it fly – let it earn its wings, and this precious piece must fly because love is at stake. #LoveMatters more than we know.

For more information on That Color Blind Kind of Love or to purchase tickets, go to www.rlpproductions.com. Follow me on social media for news on tickets for the LIVE stream. And finally, please support our $1 for Love campaign; we need your support to tell this story. The link is on the website as well.

To my cast and crew, thank you. I love you guys!

Rebekah

 

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Woman, You are Worthy!

woman and prayer

These past few months have been quite revelatory for me. I have found myself ministering to the spirits and souls of young women going through various crises. The most dangerous has been that of spiritual well-being. These women are broken and beat down by a belief system which they have internalized that tells them they are not worthy or valuable, and much of this is coming from their life partners. It does not help that media continues to perpetuate this belief system, especially for women of color. This belief of unworthiness has become their kryptonite, and it is killing them and their children.

Today, the world is celebrating Giving Tuesday, and although it is supposed to be about giving support to charities, I think it should also be about giving to self: give yourself hope and love and truth. You cannot help others if you first cannot help yourself. We have got to change the recordings of the belief system that says we are nothing. You were not put on this Earth to be nothing. “Women must stop letting the world – men – make them feel unworthy. We ARE worthy. We are strong. But we let things interfer with our strength. God gave Eve to Adam because he needed her” (G. Oglesby).

Know your worth. Walk in the truth of your existence. Our children  are watching…and waiting. Namaste.


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Was Feeling Mighty Low, But God…

But GodWhat an amazing week this has turned out to be! You know, when I woke up Monday morning, I was feeling mighty low. The weight of the potential effects of the “dramas” of this country was heavy on my spirit: murder on holy ground because of skin color, denial of the right to love and marry whom you wish, the right to access to healthcare for your family. Media’s constant looping of negative, doomsday rhetoric along with the drama of my personal life was beginning to creep into my spirit and infect it. I tried to shrug it all off and reminded myself to stay focused. But when the Devil sets out to destroy, he leaves no stone unturned. I have long known that bringing pain, darkness, chaos and evil upon the inhabitants of the land IS his job. BUT GOD…

See, when you recognize the moment – the feeling – for what it is, you can choose then and there to either ball up into yourself or give it all over into the hands of the Divine. I chose the latter. When you recognize and accept that the only thing you can control in any situation is your response to it, that action is most pleasing to God because it is HIS job to take care of the situation. He has the power, not you. Our job is to believe in that power – to work our faith, to understand our role in our relationship with the Divine. And you know what? He will always reveal to you His handling of the situation in the end.

What began this week as a potential downfall of  spirit and moral, the Divine has turned into a victory on a national (and personal level). “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 20:11, New International Version). So the next time you feel like you are not going to make it, or that justice (whatever that means to the Divine) will not prevail, remember, BUT GOD…

Rebekah

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Book Review: The Secret Life Of Lucy Bosman

I love history. I strongly believe that historical fiction is one of the creative ways in which we can teach it without being distant from it or placing it into a box for such so called learning requirements such as Standards of Learning exams. History is more than dates on a timeline. It is a living, breathing remembrance. “The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman” is such a remembrance in that the story is told with the intent of demonstrating the choices available or not to women of 19th Century pre-Civil War America – women both black and white. The choices center around the greatest myth ever told in American history, and that is that of the “American Dream.” That dream did not exist for women – women of color, especially – or at least the patriarchal society of that time tried to make it so. But the spirit of woman is resilient and determined, and that is what I wanted to showcase in my novel. That we cannot look at such poignant moments in our history and only place it in one box of discussion. Women have always played a role in the birth and growth of this country as patriots, caretakers, and even more importantly, as entrepreneurs, and we still do regardless of the color of our skin or the class from which we sprouted. This is the power of historical fiction. It tells the story within a flexible frame of context – not just dates on a timeline and exclusively male-centered. As such, I am resharing a review for the novel from a reader outside of the United States. To me, it is proof that this genre has the power to teach and entertain.

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TSLOLB Cover - Final

The Secret Life Of Lucy Bosman by Rebekah L. Pierce

The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman has truly opened my eyes to a world and time I knew very little of. The struggles and treatment of coloured people that Rebekah describes is heart-breaking and I’m manly enough to admit, bought a tear to my eye. The way the writer has described the setting for the story is beautiful, and that, combined with Lucy Bosman’s flashbacks, transports you into a world of prejudice and heartbreak, but also bravery, courage, faith and compassion.
I know in America there is Black History Month, something I didn’t get in the UK during my school education. Much research has gone into this down to the simplest detail such as fashion and speech and I have learnt so much through this book that I struggled to put it down. It is elegantly written and there are…

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No, I’m Not Alright! The Truth About Depression

depression

Depression

Like many of you, the apparent suicide of actor and comedian extraordinaire, Robin Williams on August 11, 2014, has rocked my spirit. The reports of his suffering from severe depression, however, is even more troubling because if it is true, then we’ve perhaps allowed this man to take us on a horrible roller coaster ride of laughs that had a secret compartment filled with agonizing pain.

For over 4 decades, we have looked to him to make us laugh – to take us out of our own temporary misery and give us medicine to heal our pain…if only for a moment. Whenever we heard he was releasing a movie or was going to appear on some talk show, we scampered to see what funny thing he was going to do to make us “not feel” – laugh – this time.

And we cannot help this because he set us up to do just that: look for him to make us laugh. But behind all of this laughter – on the part of both parties – was an authentic sadness – pangs like needles jabbing mercilessly into the heart – that soon became unbearable. He no longer wanted to make us laugh – his pain was too much. And unbeknownst to us, he made a decision to silence not only the pain, but the laughter.  Hmmm.

Depression is a silent killer. It wears a mask of laughter or “I’m okay” on the outside to the world, but the truth is, it always reveals itself. Addiction is a band aid which attempts to cover up the root problem. Robin Williams was remarkable to me in that he was never afraid to talk about the band  – his addictions. Yet, it was the depression that was not often addressed publicly, and it was the depression that caused him to end his brilliant life. Even the greatest funny man in the business could not bring himself to share this part of his life with us. Why? Because we still see mental illness – depression – as a thing to be kept from the world or as something one can get over if they just think positive.

I, as a writer, must find a way to continue to address this horrid roller coaster ride in my work. In my gut, I sense that it is in theatre and film that we can have an open and honest dialogue about the darkest issues that threatens the serenity of our existence – of our ability to live our lives to the fullest, happy and healthy, because the movie/theatre goer has paid to see/feel that visual truth.

My 13-year-old son asked me yesterday after he heard my husband and I talking about Robin, “Mom, why did he kill himself?” I had a moment that no parent wants to have when it comes to something as dark and sad as suicide: do I tell him to not worry about it or what I perceive to be the truth? My reply, “Because he probably thought it was the only way to stop hurting.” We simply cannot let this be any longer. The hurt – the pain – is all too real for people who suffer from depression. I should know: I tried to take my own life when I was 18 years old. Yes, depression is SO VERY real: clinical or environmental.

I challenge all artists in every field to create dialogue in your genre about suicide, depression, addictions, etc. We are the storytellers of our generation and right now, the world needs us to tell the stories. We need healing, and I am going to do my part (see below). We cannot let the deaths of our young children, teens and beloved friends – even if only on the screen – be in vain. Theirs is a cry for help, and I’m listening. Are you?

R.I.P., Robin Williams

Note: On September 1, producers of the anti-bullying and teen suicide film, “Memphis Sun,” will launch its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. If you want to play a role in educating and bringing awareness to suicide and bullying, then please consider supporting this film. I am proud to be the screenwriter for this very important story. To learn more about it, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3864028.

 

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I’m Speaking at BlogHer 2014; Join Me!

BH14_speaking

I am so excited to share that I will be a panelist/speaker at the 2014 BlogHer conference in San Jose, CA at the San Jose Convention Center on July 25th, 10:45a-12p. The session I am presenting is Writing Lab | Good to Great: Radically Improve a Blog Post in Real-Time . I will be speaking about storytelling through blogging. If you have been following my blog, you know that storytelling is what I was born to do.

I hope you will join me at this dynamic event for women bloggers. If you have ever wanted to blog, but didn’t know how, or want to take your blog to the next level, then you MUST be at the 2014 BlogHer conference. Registration is now open at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/blogher-14-registration-4010986970.

Happy Blogging!

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The Birth of a Children’s Book Author

It’s not often that I have the wonderful experience of introducing a new writer to my readers, but I am so happy that I can today. I met Shana Bernabela when she was about to graduate high school. I was her supervisor for an after school tutoring program. Then, she interned for me as a college student when I published Average Girl Magazine. We have kept in touch over the years and now I am so thrilled to share that she is embarking on a new journey in her life – that of a children’s book author. Inspired by events in her life as a little girl, Shana is ready to empower girls all over the world with her soon to be released children’s book, Sparkalina Brights. Check out her story below, and look for her blog to come soon.

Shana BernabelaMy Path to Writing Children’s Books

By Shana Bernabela

Growing up, I struggled immensely with a low self-esteem. Everything about me seemed to be flawed: my kinky hair, the color of my skin, the extra pounds I carried – just to name a few things. Often the victim of cruel teasing, I became very self-conscious, believing that something was terribly wrong with me. It didn’t help that every time I turned on the television or flipped through a magazine, my mind was inundated with images of women who looked NOTHING like me. I didn’t fit in with the American cultural ideal of beauty or value. Those models were beautiful – I was not – or at least that is how I felt. I didn’t love myself. I felt unworthy. I felt small.

This destructive mentality led me down a very difficult path and it was not until I was in my mid-twenties that I truly began to accept myself – flaws and all. I began to love myself unconditionally. I was beautiful, and truly believing that transformed my life. I started to soar to new heights and life became much more fulfilling.

With this newfound self-perception, my purpose started to reveal itself to me. Some people say that your purpose is tied to your pain; that statement could not be truer. Questions began to invade my mind. What could I do to help girls avoid the pitfalls that I faced as a child battling a poor self-image? What could I do to inspire girls to love who they are and to embrace their individuality? What could I do to make their hearts sparkle and to show them just how lovely and adored they are? Then, out of nowhere, it hit me!

When I was a young girl, I’ had an insatiable appetite for reading. Every time I opened, a book I felt like I was embarking on a magical new adventure – exploring new worlds, gaining new perspectives. Reading was fun. It was inspiring! However, when I look back upon my reading experiences, I realize that I did not see many characters that looked like me. There was definitely a void, a void I desperately wanted to fill. And just like that, my creative thoughts collided and Sparkalina Brights was brought to life. I was thrilled! This book would be my medium to inspire and empower – to shape minds and change lives.

As an aspiring children’s author, all I desire is to make a positive difference in the lives of little girls everywhere and to show them just how AMAZINGLY beautiful they are! I want this book to scream, LOVE YOURSELF! BE YOU! LIGHT UP THE WORLD!

Sparkalina Brights Release date: Fall 2014

~Shana Bernabela

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