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)
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 I have a million ideas running around in my brain but many unfinished, unpublished drafts sitting in my word bank.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.
The 2020 Presidential Election showed voter suppression all across the country. However, Stacey Abrams, demonstrated how to overcome that suppression. If you haven’t already, then check out All In: The Fight for Democracy on Amazon Prime and Abrams’ book, Our Time is Now.Both of these explain voter suppression. Ohio is one state notoriously known for it’s voter suppression.
While growing up in Ohio, I never had any problems registering to vote. Why would I? I had a driver’s license, steady address, and no criminal history. All of these seem relatively simply. But, that isn’t the case for many.
How can someone not vote? Well, I can answer that for ya. See, Ohio is one of the most difficult states to vote in. With voter list purges and a ridiculous set of requirements, Ohioans have a hard time making it to the polls. With a Republican controlled legislature and secretary of state, strict ID-laws remain intact. These rules stay intact so the Republican party can stay in power. Unfortunately, the Republican party has a history of supporting voter suppression. When less people from the other side vote, It maintains their status quo.
Let’s not call them protestors. Let’s not call them pro-Trump supporters. Let’s call them what they really are: domestic terrorists.
Domestic terrorists who support President Donald Trump
We saw this coming. We all knew Donald Trump was capable of bringing his supporters together in violent ways. I’m angry at everyone who voted for Trump. Yes, everyone. I don’t want to hear their excuses or reasons. I’ve heard all of their defenses for voting for Trump. I now those voters don’t believe they’re bad people. If they’re good people, then they would take a step back to understand why we urged them not to vote for Trump. (Don’t say the economy. Look into the GOP’s economic policies closely to see if they actually benefit you.)
They heard Trump’s rhetoric: his racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. But, they still voted for him regardless if they felt that way. Their silence gave us violence. It showed compliancy with bad behavior. They’re compliancy hurt me. But, more importantly, it hurt this country.
I think it’s safe for me to say that everyone had a shitty year. We lost many greats and were exposed to many horrible leaders. Some of our favorite icons lets us down, while others inspired us. Our nation is not only divided politically, but morally. We saw how our morales intertwined with our politics. Simply put, we have politicalizes things that shouldn’t be political. Moreover, we saw how people are emotionally unstable especially during quarantine.
In a year filled with misfortunate, I can easily say that I am very privileged. I don’t have to worry about job security or paying my rent. However, COVID-19 still made it a pretty shit year. But, I want to take a step back from the all the horrible-ness and look back at what kept me emotionally stable. Hopefully, they will be there for me this year as well.
Recently, I’ve full-on disengaged from celebrity culture. No more online tabloids or frivolous following on social media. Instead, I only follow a handful of celebrities who work with great organizations. Or, celebs with great abs. However, I can’t entirely get away from celebrity news. Apparently, what famous people post on their public social media platforms is headline news. Moreover, what they don’t post speaks volumes.
Throughout 2020, two Chrises of Hollywood got plenty of media attention. One for an accidental nude picture and the other for religious beliefs. However, it was the ample support and love from their community that intrigued me. I noticed many celebrities standing up for them when injustice occurs to them. But, my mind drifted to the celebrities who didn’t get the same support like Chris Evans and Chris Pratt received. Then, I noticed that they received support for mainly one reason: they’re white men.
Racism did not disappear with the election of Biden-Harris. Although hope returned, hate will continue to lurk. As some of you may know, being anti-racist is one way for our nation to heal. However, alone anti-racist teachings will not fully cure the four years of open hate that we’ve endured. Or, the centuries of discrimination.
Before the election results, I was walking my dogs in a park. As I was picking up one of their massive dumps, a pick-up truck covered in Trump 2020 flags slowed down near me. The two men in the truck honked at me. One screamed at me, “Trump” while the other screamed, “you go back to where you came from.” As they drove off, I thought, “I can’t even walk my dogs anymore.” When I came home, I cried for a moment then share the encounter on social media where I received ample support.
I come from privilege. I wasn’t born into this privilege, which allowed me to understand my privilege. Throughout the years, I watched my parents climb the socio-economic ladder. It wasn’t easy. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into it. However, they manage to give my sister and I a comfortable life. To keep this paragraph short, my parents’ journey inspired me to give back to my community not only professionally but also personally.
When I review my own finances, I assess what I need. Once I figure out my savings, I find myself with some excess money that I don’t need. But, others may need that money. Thus, I like to donate and spread awareness! Here are some of my favorite places to donate: