My name is Nikita Srivastava. I am an Indian woman who carries herself with the confidence of a heterosexual white male. Now, I don’t intentionally act like a white man. It kinda just happened. Apparently, if a woman demonstrates confidence in her abilities, intellect and strives for success, then she is acting like a white man. (Sorry, not sorry)
The Karen won’t let me speak. She’d rather lead with her incompetence than achieve anything fair. It’s not her fault. She has her insecurities. However, it is her fault for lashing them out. The world rewards you for lashing out. But, you must stop lashing out. It’s the easy route that will bring others harm. Stop bringing me down so you feel better about yourself.
My power comes from my mere existence. I am not supposed to be any white spaces, let alone assert myself in them. My whole being is seen as statement or a force for change. A force met with great resistance.
While out with my sister, I came across a Facebook post written by a friend about the COVID-19 vaccine. My Facebook friend posted about hesitantly getting the vaccine. After doing some research, my friend determined that the vaccine was risky like COVID-19 but would still get it for the sake of being a “public orientated person.” My friend relied on research showing how the vaccine can very rarely affect certain people. Hence, my Facebook friend did not support the vaccine but would get it anyway.
After I read that post the first time, I quietly put my phone away to enjoy brunch with my PHYSICIAN sister. Later, I read the post to my sister, who is a doctor, and shared my frustrations with her. My sister instantly validated my frustrations and expressed hers as a doctor reading that post. Initially, I wanted to comment on my friend’s post by saying, “Hey, my mom, a doctor treating COVID-19 patients, can answer any concerns you have about hesitantly getting the vaccine.” But, alas, I did not comment. I promised myself not to engage in meaningless comment wars on Facebook. It wastes my valuable emotional energy on people who will not change. I’m glad my Facebook friend was getting the vaccine but concerned with the lack of understanding of medicine and science.
Chadwick Boseman does not need an Academy Award, or Oscar, to validate his talent. Neither does his family nor his community. His fans know he was simply the best. But, my goddesses, he fucking earned it for his portrayal of Leeve in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Why is the Academy afraid to celebrate black excellence in the leading actors categories? Would it be bad if no white actors won?
Per usual, the 2021 Oscars did the bare minimum in celebrating diverse talent. Yes, there were historic wins. But, those have been far and few in between. They always do this. The Academy will make small, yet “historic” gestures.
I didn’t watch the entire Chauvin trial. I feared that history would repeat itself. That those 10 hours of deliberation would lead to more pain. Tears filled my eyes when the judge went through each verdict form.
“Guilty,” he said not once, not twice, but three times. I was thrilled but then sad. I went through a series of mixed motions:
Was it justice? No. Prison is never the answer. It won’t bring back the lives lost. Or, truly heal families.
Will people use this to say racism is over? Yes, America is obsessed with being post-racial. We need to be anti-racist, not non-racist.
What’s my part as an ally? I am relieved but there is still so much to do. I will continue to educate those in my community and fight for systemic change.
Thank you for sharing your experience, reminding us that history does repeat itself. And, for women of color, it can go completely unnoticed. Thank you for “spilling tea” gracefully instead of maliciously.
When you shared your suicidal thoughts, it forced me to reflect on my current mental health situation.
I’ve been a fan of yours since I saw Suits. I loved your blog, the Tig, and your work with the UN. I didn’t care that you were dating Prince Harry. Your grounded, honest nature made me a fan. When you married into the Royal Family, I, like you, did not know much about them. I noticed all the good you wanted to do, but the limits placed on you. I instantly knew that every “criticism” that came your was solely based on your race. I defended you when my white girlfriends said, “Kate went through this too.” Because, I knew Kate didn’t deal with racism.
Throughout Black History Month, I decided to support more Black artists. Although I am good at watching diverse work, I could be better. So, I started binging my main man’s work, Spike Lee. You cannot categorizes Lee. He can make anything from thrillers to powerful civil rights film. Of course, no one can match his humor. However, I need to support more talent. (I had to wake up!)
Netflix recommended that I watch the documentary series, They Gotta Have Us. In a nutshell, I learned that any Tyler Perry movie and films like 12 Years A Slave were categorized the same: “Black Films”. Like comedy, drama, and thrillers are all genres, Black Films became a genre. Instead of being seen as comedies or dramas, any film with Black characters became a statement. However, filmmakers hate this. It forces them into another racial mold.
Recently, I’ve been too exhausted to be personally productive. This means I am not working on myself. Household chores are neglected, self-care isn’t touched, and exercising becomes a distant memory. I told my therapist how I haven’t been meditating or practicing any mindfulness. But, I wasn’t beating myself up. Sometimes you just have those weeks where work, life, and the world, in general, exhaust you. And, the only way to recoup is to lay on the couch with your dogs and binge Twin Peaks(then fall asleep with it on).
However, I did confess to my therapist that I missed one activity: writing. I have a million ideas running around in my brain but many unfinished, unpublished drafts sitting in my word bank. From informative blog posts to my cathartic short stories, I haven’t worked on any of them. Oddly, it feels like a part of myself is missing when I don’t write. I didn’t realize how much I relied on expressing myself.
As a fan of Nico Walker’s book, Cherry, I was thrilled to hear the Russo Brothers were directing the movie adaption. However, their “most personal film” missed the entire point of Cherry. Early reviews destroyed this adaption. But, I still wanted to give it a chance. So, I didn’t read any reviews, watch any clips, or see too many interviews about the film. Instead, I managed my expectation but still came out very disappointed.
I am not a professional film critic. I didn’t attend film school or study the craft. I’ve immersed myself in cinema at a very young age. As a kid, I felt alone, sad, and anxious all the time. Movies were my escape. A haven where I could try to understand human behavior. In my teen years, I watched all the special features to learn about filmmaking. Yes, I became obsessed. But, cherish every moment of this obsession. So, I know a few things about how films (like when they’re sending a good or bad message). Again, I am not a film critic. But, I am a public defender. I represent people like Walker every day. I particularly have a soft spot for my veteran client basis. When in school, I volunteered at the local veteran’s hospital. I’ve seen first-hand the trauma veterans face when they return to civilian life. I witnessed PTSD treated with medication, not actual treatment. I know how veterans are forced into poverty, but the world sees it as their choice. Also, growing up in Ohio, I am pretty knowledgeable about the opioid epidemic. All of this experience and knowledge influences my advocacy for clients like Walker. I know the system failed them.
Basically, this review comes from an engaged audience member and advocate for people like the main character in Cherry.
Looking back, I heard some pretty problematic shit.
When I was 9 years old, I experienced racism for the first time. After school, I rode the bus home from school. My sister had a play practice or she would have protected me from this little bully. Alas, I had to learn how to protect myself. My school bus always stopped to pick up other kids from different schools. One of these schools was private Christian School where I encountered this little bully. Faith, no more than 8 years old, decided to sit near me on the bus. Now, this itself was shocking because I usually sat alone with my sister. I was a very socially awkward child (still am).
Faith was whiter than snow white and carried herself with the confidence of soccer mom running to be a Republican House of Representative. Faith decided to speak me for the first time ever. I politely removed my headphones and paused my CD player to engage with her. Little did I know that my whole identity would be under attack.