My parents drove a white Chevy Monte Carlo with powder blue interior. Technically, this was my mom’s car. I always sat in the middle of the the back seat and leaned forward between the two front bucket seats with my nose firmly planted in what my mom called, “grown folks business.” On this summer day about thirty years ago, I sat back and quietly stared out the window. The road signs zipped past as we raced toward our destination. We arrived at the airport moments later and approached the departure gate (back when you could do that sort of thing). My mother’s demeanor clouded and a monsoon of tears rolled down her face. She squeezed me like a black rubber ducky. I made a high pitched squeal as she pushed all the air from my lungs. My father reluctantly joined in. I heard a low deep voice whisper, “love you boy.” My mother couldn’t speak. I’d only be gone for three weeks. To Mattye Jones this was an eternity. I boarded the plane first. I was not seated in first class. I was a minor flying alone. I acted like a spotter at the gym following behind the flight attendant as she teetered down the isle in high heels wearing twelve and a half pounds of makeup with a faded gold airplane pendant pinned to her lapel.
She giggled as she walked and I did my best to catch her when she lost her balance and pulled some escapee from the Real Housewives of Alabama’s wig off. When we arrived at my seat she pursed her lips and asked me, in a voice that sounded a lot like she was talking to a Yorkshire Terrier in a Burberry sweater, “is this your first time flying darling?” We were early in the boarding process and I had my doubts about her ability to supervise passengers in flight. Yes, I was a child troll. I fastened my seat-belt and responded with a curt, “nope.” I looked like a little junior mint in a bowl full of marshmallows on this flight. This would be a temporary feeling.
Soon I’d be in Mobile Alabama spending the summer with three of the four southern belles whose homes I grew up in: Zeola Ransefore, Dolly Mae Pettus and Daisy Mae Cowan. These are the women that raised me. These Black women are my heart. They fed me, taught me, reprimanded me and loved me.
This is my context. I don’t see the world through a strictly Black point of view. These women made damn sure my perspective was not mired by their negative experiences. They chose to focus on the positive. I can never repay them for that.
Like any normal person, when I watch television and film I look for things that are familiar and unfamiliar. Sometimes, I like to see things that represent where I came from. It pains me to see the women that raised me so grossly under/misrepresented in media. I can’t be alone.
It is with that mind set that I decided to compile the following list to celebrate just a few of the amazing women who have touched my heart with their work. It’s not a definitive list. It represents many women of color, some women of a certain age that we’ve been lead to believe is less desirable because it falls out of the market tested demographic that we’re meant to covet, women more defined by the content of their character than the color of their skin. But they are women whose work has stood out to me on various television series, in new digital programs that represent the future of storytelling, women who have blazed trails, changed the game and much more. I always try to keep an eye out for their projects when I get the chance.
Thank you ladies. Your amazing work has not gone unnoticed.
PS - If you have some favorites that I did not include please share your list as well. I’d love to see whose work gets you excited too.
Reblogging with link to a larger version of chart which many have requested. Thanks.