Film / TVHealthRaceSex & Gender
new crime drama examines healing in a culture that teaches black men to repress feelings
By Eye Candy
October 13, 2017
By Kyle Somersall*, AFROPUNK Contributor
How fluid is identity? This is a question that Brooklyn born artist Michael Wynton (played by Terence Nance) grapples with in the short film, The Paris Project created by Tamara P. Carter.
At the outset of the film Michael declares, “There’s a number of things that’ll come to the surface about my past—none of them are true.” He then gives us insight into his journey by sharing a fragment of his old life and contrasting it with staples of his new life. He’s adamant that he doesn’t mess with guns anymore, while professing his belief in reiki, transcendence, and other spiritual notions. Michael also shares his love for his fiancé (played by Nia Andrews), who he plans to marry in three weeks.
Michael has convinced himself that he isn’t who he used to be and strives to live a life filled with art, spiritually, and domestic bliss.
But as he gets closer to the date of his wedding, he’s forced to reconcile with his dark past that is layered with crime, Paris’s drug-fueled underground art scene, and his relationship with his ex, Anaïs.
Even though Michael wishes to detach himself from his past—to repress all of the emotions and forget all of the memories, he’s forced to recognize the contradictions that exist in his life.
His story is very much human and illustrates the pain that accompanies healing. Legitimate healing happens when we’re able to come to terms with our past and the person that we are in the present.
This type of acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to change how we feel about a certain experience or relationship—it’s clear throughout the indie drama that Michael prefers the choices that accompany his present life in Paris over his past. However, the acceptance has to be one that comes to terms with reality, in order to mend parts of us that don’t feel complete.
Michael’s denial of his past extends his suffering as he’s blanketed with worries about his fiancé’s safety and has previous memories bubble back up to the surface. He soon realizes that in order for him to move forward, he first has to deal with his past as he confronts his ex girlfriend and ventures back into Paris’s underground art scene to settle a debt.
Michael’s story of repressed emotions mirrors the experience that many men have and is especially indicative of the way black American culture deals with mental and emotional health.
Black men are often taught that expressing their feelings is a sign of weakness. Instead of being guided to seek professional help when dealing with mental illness, black men are often shown that their appropriate response should be synonymous with platitudes like “I ain’t got no worries”.
Michael illustrates the harm done by denying human emotions and experiences. His denial of his past steals the joy of his present life.
As the film closes, Michael’s voice vibrates with the same cadence as the first words he mentioned in the film, but the narrative has a significant change. He states, “There’s a number of things that’ll come to the surface about my past—some of them are true, but you must believe me when I say that I have changed.”
Michael seems to have accepted that in order to move forward he can’t deny his past. Even as he changes, the real healing comes from his ability to confront his past and acknowledge the truth in it.
*Kyle Somersall is a writer and meditation teacher based in Harlem. He’s the founder of my innerglow, which is an organization that blends meditation, creativity, and human connection through events and workshops with youth programs and companies. He’s interested in bringing a focus on mental into education settings and building community around mindfulness and meaningful connection.
Personal Website: www.kylesomersall.com
Personal Instagram: www.instagram.com/kylesomersall
Company Website: www.myinnerglow.com
Company Instagram: www.instagram.com/myinnerglow
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