Tag Archives: aging

Going Gray While Black

photograph of Rebecca Carroll; no gray showing
Rebecca Carroll

Debbie says:

I’d be interested in an article about going gray by just about any Black woman, so finding  the awesome Rebecca Carroll is writing about just that (“Going Gray Is a Revelation,” published at TheZoeReport”) is a real treat. Carroll is 52, and her gray hair “has only just started to come in around my face over the past year or two, and I love it.”

after the recent loss of actor Michael K. Williams, I found myself deeply moved by a quote of his that resurfaced amid the myriad messages of appreciation and mourning that circulated on social media after his death. In an interview for Men’s Health, he said: “I spent a lot of my younger years not feeling beautiful. When I look back at my pictures now as a kid, I’m like, ‘Damn, you were actually beautiful.’ I couldn’t see it back then.”

I already knew I was going to write this piece before Williams died, but this quote reminded me of my context. Because there’s beauty, and then there’s us. By us, I mean Black folks — we who have never been factored into the “real” standard of beauty in America, the white standard of beauty. Many of us search for any reflection of ourselves in our surroundings, particularly during our youths, much less a reflection or representation of ourselves that is deemed beautiful. And for a lot of Black girls and gay Black boys (Williams was gay) this lack of reflection hits in an especially poignant way. In America, Black girls are too often hyper-sexualized, while gay Black boys are de-sexualized or erased altogether, when often all we want is to see ourselves presented as beautiful. We simultaneously ache for the validation, and feel ashamed for wanting it.

I am 100% clear that being fat is not being Black. That being said, this passage will likely strike a chord with adults of all races who were fat kids. I certainly have the experience of looking at pictures of my young self and seeing beauty I didn’t know was there, as well the experience of looking hopelessly for images of myself, let alone ones that spoke of beauty. I also know that the fat Black girls (and the fat Black boys) face a much higher barrier to finding their own beauty than I ever did.

Carroll’s short article continues in her lyrical, searingly truthful style:

I actually really like getting older. Although, doing so while also navigating the current generation’s insistence on one’s own hotness, in every way, on every possible media platform, is an increasingly ambitious endeavor. Still, along with the profound solace of mercifully depleted f*cks to give, comes a deeply intimate, unrestrained sense of beauty — your own, and all that is in and around you. It’s less a feeling of who or what is beautiful, and more of a revelation. Indeed, as the late Toni Morrison once said, “At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough.”

On one level, I wish she had written more, and in the end, I deeply appreciate that she said what she wanted to say, said it clearly, invoked Michael K. Williams and Toni Morrison (both iconic figures) and then stopped when she was done.

This article is for everyone, and it is especially for Black women and gay Black men. I hope it gets in front of as many of those folks’ eyes as possible. Thank you, Ms. Carroll!


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Cid Pearlman’s Film At Mexico City Videodance Festival

Laurie says:

My daughter choreographer Cid Pearlman’s short film, Moving through Loneliness, is an official selection of the 5th Mexico City Videodance Festival. The festival runs through October 10th.

She made the 10-minute film with Mara Milam, based on the three 12-minute videos they made for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH). Jonathan Segel composed a new score specifically for this version and it’s amazing.


The work came out of a collaboration with an intergenerational group of performers, a cohort of seniors who guided her process, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History for the exhibition We’re Still Here: Stories of Seniors; Isolation. Moving Thorough Loneliness at the museum was a combination of dance video and installation.

The film is an exquisite distillation of her exhibition. Movement and dance give a stunning rendition of the complexity of aging and loneliness. It is both visually stunning and deeply emotional.


The work was made long before the pandemic, but the expressions of loneliness and loss resonate so much with the present moment. It is a remarkably rewarding, rich and complex 10 minute work.

I wrote about the Santa Cruz museum exhibition in Body Impolitic:

I was there for the opening and the combination of the installation, the video “Moving through Loneliness”, and the dance were powerful and impressive. They expressed the empathy and the loneliness of people with deep respect for them. The interweaving of the three very different expressions creates a layered, complex, and deeply moving experience of loneliness and aging for the viewer. It’s rare that you see three art forms so perfectly and coherently blended.

The film was shown previously at the Moving body-Moving Image Festival on April 4th, 2020. The Festival explored Aging & Othering. The full exhibition moves to the Marin Civic Center and the San Francisco Public Library, dates to be announced.

The link goes to the film. See it. And you can check out other films at the Mexico City festival.

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