yep. that was her. leaning forward on the window seal, with a panicked look of terror, a look she’d undoubtedly configured mimicking a grief of black women she’d known from years of struggle and loss, the same look I’d seen at some time or another on the faces of so many black women I’d grown to know, mothers and sisters of sons and brothers lost. lost to drugs. or gun violence. the world. the look of defeat and shame and wondering. wondering where they went wrong. wondering how much more they can take. they won’t quit, so the wonderment is really nothing more than reflection; not really a cry for help. the face doesn’t hold. when another scene unfolds, with Ossie Davis bringing flowers, the light fills her eyes and the strength returns. but its her face then, troubled and weary, glowing from the distant flicker of flames engulfing Sal’s Pizzeria, that i always remember and conjure first when i think of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. two days ago, we lost the actress, ruby dee davis. the black woman in america has yet to get a fair break. truth time. from being mothers in villages and or once queens to being kidnapped and stolen from Africa, then raped and tortured and traded from plantation to plantation, up and down the Mississippi and the Caribbean, and now marginalized and unfairly encapsulated into the lowest rungs of society. its always one struggle after another. and for this struggle, they aren’t aloud to scream, or shout, or complain, because that would be bitchy and well, then they are bitches, so all the pitfalls can arise, and all the self fulfilling prophecies can come to the light and society can be all like see i told you black bitches aint shit but hoes and tricks. and they won’t get a thank you for being humble and bearing it, when others can and do flamboyantly cry out. the black man’s struggle in america will never equate to the black woman’s struggle. and honestly, outside of Arab women in the Arab world, no one has ever been more disrespected. for the better half of the past century, one of these black women, has given us a model on what it means to fight and endure these challenges gracefully. Ruby Dee was an actress. Her more famous works are “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950), “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961), “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and “American Gangster” (2007). She performed for over 7 decades, yep, 70 years of working on her god given light. Young cats know her from smacking the shit outta Frank Lucas as played by Denzel and older people know her as the heart to Sidney’s soul in A Raisin In The Sun. She was an actress, and still much more. Ruby Dee was a civil rights activist. She marched with so many historic Negroes you would think she a weed carrier for Jesse Jackson or something, but politics was not her day job. And her husband, fellow thespian Ossie Davis, was just about as active as Jesse Jackson anyway. Its not hard to find pictures of them with civil rights greats. Ossie eulogized Malcolm X. Together, he and Ruby Dee became iconoclasts, the last living remnants of a civil rights era easily forgotten, sadly, just decades later. Ruby Dee and Ossie were my model for black love. They were the real Cosby’s. I always loved that sitcom for what it meant. And even though Urkel was corny, and Myra was killing Laura, Family Matters drew me in because of the same dynamic. There is something about a successful black family that just makes me smile. I’m talking umoja. Success as a unit. I don’t mean successful with money, because neither family was wealthy. In reality, Ruby Dee raised 3 kids of her own, and who knows, they could all be shitbirds, but when you see images of her and Ossie, looking like the Cosby’s look, you know its real love, and I doubt anything less than goody two shoes ass Theo ass mofos are coming out that household. I say all of that to say this, without strong family we don’t have strong community. we must rebuild the black family. well actually Farrakhan said that, and i know his politics are iffy, but he was right about that one. and that strong family, whether black, or white, or green or Mexican, begins with love between two people (in most states a man and woman). coming from a broken home and barely walking the right side of the thin line that separates leaving the hood from death or jail, i can’t help but notice the pattern fates so far bestowed on friends from homes with two parents and friends from homes like mine. yes, there are many factors, but there seems to be a common denominator. and while we can have another debate on the why of it all, the how of it all seems to be a lack of parents who love and respect each other. Its like a fucking sliding scale even. lets not even consider tangible realistic factors like having a two income household or a male disciplinarian for overgrown manchilds. and i guess it was something i feared because i have always desired finding my black queen and having that unit first, with a girl who knew the struggle of our race, was down for the car chase, and could roll up while we lay in bed on a lazy Saturday morning watching Scarface. Ride or Die? Yeah, I’m sure she was that and so much more. In communities where silver anniversaries are few and far between, examples of lifelong devotion are hard to come by. I am grateful that Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee allowed us to witness their love, compassion, and devotion to each other and the black community.
RIP Ruby Dee Davis
Ryan Mega is a Spike Lee Film Buff who really doesn’t understand why directors matter any fucking way.