Honoring my Grandparents’ Fight for Racial Equality through Riverment

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RIVERMENTBy Shayla Raquel

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]G[/dropcap]rowing up as an African American girl in South Carolina, even with the luxuries of sweet tea and Southern Hospitality, racial awareness came fairly quickly.

My grandparents took on the job of teaching me, their eldest granddaughter, what it means to be Black, the history of our culture, and how to maneuver in today's society as an African American woman. My grandmother and grandfather both owned thriving Black businesses in the South during a time when it was hard for African Americans to start their own. My grandfather started an All-Black golfers club called the "Black Jackets," to combat the racial inequality of African Americans not being allowed to play on all-white golf courses.

When I was nine-years old they took me to march in protest of the Confederate flag flying over the Statehouse. They wanted to teach me about the complexities of race and identity before the world was able to, because the world can sometimes be a lot harsher with its lessons. I learned so much listening to their stories about what it was like to survive living in the Jim Crow South during the 1950s and 1960s, and their stories helped mold me into the woman I am today. They may not consider themselves "civil rights activists" but in the eyes of this little girl, they were activists, and they were heroes.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]wo years ago, after the death of Mike Brown, I sat with my Grandmother as we watched the news. Instantly, I could see the pain in her eyes. I tried to spark up a conversation to see how she felt, and she said, "sometimes we need to just turn the television off." Initially, I was shocked by her response. There was a disconnect – how could this woman who made me racially aware, wanted to ignore what was going in our community right now? I took a step back, and I realized that trauma plays a huge role. Her response was not to ignore the issues facing our community, but to cope and maintain her sanity. The generation of the civil rights movement lived during a time when racism was legal, and to see it continue to fester, after all that they've been through is traumatizing.

Continued conversations with my Grandmother about how the issue of racial inequality was combatted during her time versus now sparked the idea to create the short fictional film called Riverment. Using the dynamic relationship between a grandmother and a granddaughter, Riverment explores the evolving fight for Black rights in America and how it affects families through generations. The film centers women to showcase how women have been, and will continue to be in the forefront of all movements.  Riverment presents a compelling and timely dialogue from two generations of activists, with two varying approaches for one continuous fight.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]S[/dropcap]o far, Riverment has been recognized as a “Projects We Love” by Kickstarter, and was highlighted in Kickstarter’s newsletter dedicated to projects discussing #BlackLivesMatter. The project has also received the honor of being highlighted as Indiewire's “Project of the Week,” and we are currently in the running for "Project of the Month."

We are currently fundraising for this film project. To learn more about the film or to show your support, please visit our Kickstarter at www.rivermentfilm.com/donate. Thank you for helping us turn our dreams of making this film into a reality.