‘A Lovesong for Latasha’ Director Sophia Nahli Allison: ‘We Are Building the Future’

Sophia Nahli Allison’s “A Love Song for Latasha” (streaming on Netflix) centers on the life of Latasha Harlins, a young Black girl killed by a convenience store owner. Her death contributed to the outcry that led to the 1992 L.A. uprising, and now in 2020, her story remains more relevant than ever. Rather than recount the details about the injustice of her murder, Allison focused in her film on a life reimagined, recreated. She shared her thoughts on memories, dreams and creativity.

I remember the future as deeply as I remember the past.
Drifting through the galaxies.
Seated at the birthplace of my mother.
Flying.
Resting.
Rising with the tides as the moon pulls me back.

Black womxn artists have always conjured memories that were not their own. Memories from our ancestors and our posterity, memories that bend and avert laws of linearity. We exist between the realm of waking and dreaming, among the future and past, rummaging through fact and fiction, anointed by the living and dead.

Be still, listen. We have been speaking to you all along.

I have known Black womxn who commanded the elements, braided allegories, pricked their fingers, massaged memories; Black womxn who speak in a whisper and those who scream with rage. I have known Black womxn who’ve tended to their scars, broken rules, broken their backs, had dreams deferred, fought tirelessly, collected welfare, died namelessly, and traveled into the darkest depths of the universe to reclaim their agency. I am still searching. Still listening for the voices that call out in the night.

A little over three years ago, I overheard a conversation between an elderly Black woman and a younger Black woman on the bus. The young woman, who once had a near-death experience, stated casually as if sharing wisdom among friends, “It’s not dying that hurts, it’s coming back to life that is painful.”

As they continued speaking amongst themselves I drifted into the deep recesses of the unearthed, “The Unclaimed” that Nikki Finney spoke of “for all that you were/ for all that you wanted to be/ each time I sign my name/ know that it is for a thousand like you/ who could not hold a pen/ but who instead held me/ and rocked me gently/ to the creative rhythms/I now live by.”

This is permission to remember. Remember and dream deeply because “… only in dreams are liberation and judgment at the center of vision. That is where we do all the things in imagination that our awareness demands but our situation does not yet permit. In dreams, we seek the place in the sun that society denies us. And here, as in everything, a continuum of consciousness will be represented,” as stated by Michele Russell. Black womxn, this is permission to move beyond dimensions of time to create new blueprints that tell our stories. When you are told that your ideas, approach, or process is wrong, remember, that you are building the future. Remember that coming back to life is more painful than dying and be kind to yourself, this shit is hard. Remember that you are a constant, ever-expanding universe. You are a living, breathing archive. Trust the unseen. Dream.

Dreams are birthed through visions, rest, meditation, discussions, collective care, nature, the cosmos, herbs, rituals, radical reimaginings. Dreaming is a spiritual and intentional process that leads to active manifesting, dismantling, and surrendering. When dreaming has been intentionally stripped from our realm of possibilities, remember, “it’s not dying that hurts, it’s coming back to life that is painful.” Return. Return to your dreams that have been tended to by your ancestors.

Place a small glass of the ocean on the window seal, a mirror beneath your bed.
offer libations of sweet honey and mugwort
and invite the night to rest her head.

Through dreaming, we access innate wisdom that has been promised to us. What was once unfamiliar becomes an intimate invitation for the sub/conscious to trust the unseen. Ground yourself in the present. Heal the past. Demand the future. Uplift the Black womxn who are fighting to rebirth their stories, to remember, to exist. We are with you. We have traveled for centuries to reach you. We are echoes through time. Remember, we are building the future.

Sophia Nahli Allison directed “A Love Song for Latasha.” She is also a cinematographer, editor and producer. Sophia is a Black queer radical dreamer, experimental documentary filmmaker and photographer. She is a 2020 United States Artists Fellow in Film and has held residencies at MacDowell, The Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, and POV Spark’s African Interactive Art Residency. She is currently working on her long-term project “Dreaming Gave Us Wings.”

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