2020

This Ostrich is Getting Her Head Out Of The Sand

by Natasha Paris

I’ve stopped looking at the news. It’s too depressing. Not only is the president himself ridiculously heart-sickening, but so are all the rest of the idiocies happening in the world. I should stay current. It’s better for my writing, you might say. But don’t worry, I’ll catch up reading the headlines and learning what I need. I got plenty in my head to be creative. Beyond that, it’s just too disruptive. I’m too sensitive and idealistic. I hope and see the best in people, and to see the hatred or the stupidity is just too painful. I want to believe people are just misinformed which is why they act this way. But between COVID and the current U.S. Civil Rights Movement, sometimes I’m not sure anymore.

 

In March 2020, when COVID shut the country down, I moved from Dallas to Aubrey — so far away from the city of Dallas that it is actually part of Denton County. I was so worried about feeling disconnected and far away from the “action” of the city and the filmmaking industry. Then, I realized everyone is “far away” currently. 

 

I have since rediscovered that I don’t handle stress or panic really well. I freeze and ignore. Hoping it will pass. Like a turtle or an ostrich, I withdraw and wait. When COVID hit, I suddenly had to drop everything (my writing, mostly) to focus on taking care of my family while staying safe and healthy. I also suddenly became my daughter’s teacher. Between the panic of the lack of groceries in the stores, making sure my daughter was staying on it at school, teaching my own classes at KD Conservatory, having an entire house and a storage space to pack and then unpack and decorate and install, cooking more, cleaning the dishes and constantly cleaning around the house, plus trying to find some quiet time to write, I felt overwhelmed and exhausted beyond words. Everyone kept saying, “This is an excellent time for writing.” But when? I was busier than pre-COVID! My brain was so panicked that I was now in a “numb mode.” Numb about the new house, numb about my own feelings and needs, but especially numb when it came to writing. 

 

To relax at night, or to crash my mind to sleep, I played games on my phone —Solitaire, Candy Crush, Brain games, and more. It got so bad that I developed red eyes from not blinking enough at night while I played games until 2-3 am. 

 

How am I dealing with the current U.S. Civil Rights Movement? 

 

Just when I thought I couldn’t handle more emotionally, the current Civil Rights Movement happened, and I found myself in the midst of another stress and panic-filled crisis.

To me, “All Lives Matter.” While I understand the principle behind “Black Lives Matters,” I think the proper slogan should have been “Black Lives Matter too” – although it’s not very “sexy." But it seems that the biggest argument is the perceived exclusivity of the name of the organization, the slogan. Mind you, I’m an idealist, a humanitarian. At the same time, I don't believe that by engaging with the MeToo movement, means I’m against men. There is a balance, and we need to find it. But we won’t find it by destroying all men either. When I was hired by the Women in Film Dallas to write, direct, and produce their PSAs, I believed in empowering women without belittling men.

 

When asked how I am dealing with the current U.S. Civil Rights Movement as a person of color, I paused. I have always struggled with  being put in that box. How can I know? I’m a human being experiencing my own experience. I wouldn’t dare to say that my experience is representative of anyone else’s, let alone an entire race or two. So I can only share my own experience through this mess. 


My father’s Haitian, and my mother’s Greek, Cerbo-Croatian, Armenian, and Turkish. I was born in Montreal, Canada. In the last five generations on my

mother’s side, not one woman was born in the same city her mother was born in. And while my 23-year-old daughter, who lives in Montreal, Canada was born in the exact same hospital I was born in, I became the sixth woman to give birth to a girl, my second daughter, when she was born in the USA.  

 

Cultural and racial labels never bothered me. In fact, the more the better. As a teenager, I was hoping to marry an Asian/Native American boy, so our children would be all four races. My White husband believed he had Native-American blood, and that sold the deal even more to me (although we later found the DNA results didn’t show any Native American ancestry). 

 

But cultural and racial labels can sometimes betray us or cause more harm than good. When I first moved here, I wasn’t an American citizen yet, so it didn’t feel right to check the “African-American” box. I was born Canadian and genetically I'm half-Haitian, so my lineage linking me back to Africa felt quite a few generations away. While Blacks are described as “African-Americans,” Caucasians are referred to as White, and Mexicans as Latinos or Hispanics. Where’s the common thread? Mexicans are not the only Latinos/Hispanics. Latino and Hispanic mean of Latin language/culture, which includes most of Central and South America, Spain, Portuguese, Italy, Romania, and France. 

 

Being multiracial, I never feel like I belong to any one race, and I do suffer racism from both sides. My Black friends and family do not fully consider me like them. Even though my (half) sister is pale – but darker than me – she takes great pleasure at laughing at how light my skin is and how even of lighter skins my daughters’ are. My White friends see me as ethnic, not as White. Only Mexicans and Brazilians take me for one of theirs. Which I’m not.

 

With respect to Blackness, growing up in Montreal, Canada was different. Everyone wanted to be Black. The Black kids were the cool ones, the ones who danced the best. We all wanted to hang out in the back of the bus to be with the cool kids. But the main difference between Canada and the U.S. is that Canada had less Black slave trade, so most of the Black population are actually immigrants (or descendants of immigrants). Most of my Black friends were Haitians – like me. Haitians had their revolution from France in 1804 and have since had Black Haitians in power – so their culture and self-image is quite different from the African-Americans. 

 

In Montreal – because I can’t speak for the rest of the country — it’s not that there’s no racism. No, there’s plenty racism, but it’s not only against the Blacks. Every race and culture has its own stereotypes and is judged for it. Stereotypes, like clichés, typically occur because there is some truth to it. Is it the norm? No, but it’s what’s expected. Those expectations are what get us in trouble sometimes. And our expectations can change with a little bit of communication and information.

As author Yuval Harari argued in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, “Social cooperation is our key for survival and reproduction. It is not enough for individual men and women to know the whereabouts of lions and bisons. It’s much more important for them to know who in their band hates whom.” I think we tend to forget that we are animals at the core. As animals, we utilize our distinctions to identify or “smell” others as a threat or not. If I’m a bunny meeting a coyote, but all I’ve heard about coyotes is that they eat bunnies, I’m gonna run for my life. But if I was a pet bunny raised with a gentle dog that looks like a coyote, will I run from the coyote? Perhaps not. My point is we need more conversation, more exposure and more knowledge on one another with the admission that we are different. But that takes effort and willingness to change.

 

A lot of the White Supremacists (or the Trump fan base) are from low income and rough neighborhoods. All they have to hold on to is their whiteness and their privilege. It’s easier for us all to complain about others and see others as threats rather than realizing it’s time to get off our buttocks to evolve and better ourselves. 

 

All of this has been playing in my head as I’m trying to write. In my first feature film entitled Pandora’s Voodoo, a single mother chases her escaped convict father after he kidnaps her children and leads her on a trip back to where her mother died. It's a Southern-gothic road trip of self-discovery. 

 

In the midst of COVID, I find myself on my own road of self-discovery. In the new normal, which I used to call a “bubble,” I have been reading audiobooks mostly and working on myself. I zoom with my life coach who basically slaps me in the face as he hands me a flashlight to help me move toward the light at the end of the tunnel. I think everyone should have some form of coach or mentor. It’s excellent to push you forward. The process is not always fun, but it’s efficient! He’s the one who helps me get my head, out of the sand, and reminds me that this is not a bubble. This is a new, perhaps temporary, way of life, but life nonetheless – and I can only keep moving forward. 

 

I am a writer. I am a creator, an artist. My mission and purpose have always been to create esoteric-themed projects with a unique, thought-provoking storytelling style to help widen the audience’s views and reconsider their preconceptions, rethink their labels through a fun, entertaining way. Regardless of the size of the hurricane inside or outside, my mission stays the same. Many jobs will become obsolete with technology, but Writer is not one of them. My head in the sand won’t save me and won’t keep me safe for long, so I might as well face the music head on. So that when the sun shines again, instead of getting out of my cave with eyes blinded by the light, I’ll already be on my horse, soothing others with my creative writings. 

 

While in confinement, I have been fortunate enough to discover even more how of an amazing husband I have. He has gone above and beyond for all of us to feel safe and comfortable in our new home. COVID has allowed me to see him better, in his purest form. I feel like it made us closer and more in touch. While others have been ready to divorce or find a way out of the house, we’ve been happier and looking for more stuff to do together.

 

I’m also very fortunate to share my days with my 6-year-old daughter. She’s excited – always. She jumps constantly because she’s just so happy. She asks questions that make me rethink how I see the world. She’s so cute that I can’t stay mad at her. And she’s sooo loving, so-so- sooo loving. And I realize, “fortunate” is the only label that matters to me right now.

 

Find more of Natasha's work on her website, LunaluzProductions.com, and watch this short to learn more about her and her work https://vimeo.com/106851546.

You can also follow and like her feature film Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PandorasVoodoo/