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The Artist and Filmmaker Envisioning a Safer World for Black Women

Black Women in Entertainment

The Artist and Filmmaker Envisioning a Safer World for Black Women

By Lovia Gyarkye via

Ti’jhae Beecher is 7 years old when she happens upon the artist and filmmaker Ja’Tovia Gary on the corner of West116th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem in 2019. Gary, flanked by a camera crew and with a microphone in hand, had stopped her to ask a simple question: “Do you feel safe?” Beecher, who is standing with her grandfather, answers yes and proceeds to tell Gary about how she feels prepared to leave the house every day, but that there are times when she is upset about having to wake up early for school. Gary agrees that waking up early is, in fact, the worst, and then asks Beecher if, for the most part, she feels good. Beecher replies plainly: “I don’t feel like I’m in danger.”

“That’s good,” Gary says in response. “I hope you never ever feel like you are in danger, that you always feel safe and strong.” Gary’s interview with Beecher is one of many that she conducts with Black women and girls in Harlem that day, asking those passers-by — who differ in age, ethnicity and spiritual identification — if they…

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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