The Zoom Call I Needed

Written by Montez Louria

I woke Saturday morning to realize I hadn’t reserved my ticket to watch Amanda Seales’s talk to my Black Student Union (BSU). I frantically ran to my computer, trickles of sweat forming on my forehead, panicking about if I had missed my shot at saying I was on a Zoom call with Amanda Seales. At first, I thought about skipping because it was Saturday, and in my completely empty quarantine schedule, I thought catching a nap would be more useful. Then I thought, “Why not watch Batman: Mask of the Phantasm for the one hundredth time?” However, a glance at my pan-African flag made me realize what a disservice I would be doing myself to miss Amanda Seales. The BSU at my university is extremely active, even though the university is not always on board with their activism. We attend a very neo-liberal, “we support diversity yet proudly defend professors who attend insurrections,” kind of university. Amanda Seales presence– even virtually on campus– made me flutter in Black girl magic.

I counted down to six o’ clock. Finding things to fill the void:laundry, recoloring my hair, catching fraud on my debit card. That actually made me 5 minutes later than I had planned. I hopped on the Zoom call to see a glorious Blonde fro, immaculate Black art hanging above her head, and a beautiful blue suede couch. I was glued to my phone. What a sight to see,an unapologetically Black woman spitting nothing but Blackness and authenticity in association with Chapman University. Needless to say, I couldn’t believe it. I still cannot believe it. Aside from her aesthetic, Amanda dropped the gems I needed.

Let me back track. February is Black History Month. I have been scrolling on Instagram and Facebook, witnessing living history and Black excellence. And then there is me. I am taking four graduate level classes. I have a day job. I have high anxiety. Major depression, and half written stories because I can never finish a thought. I never feel like my work is good enough. So, I sit in my room and think about just how inadequate I am. I have flashbacks of people telling me my writing was bad, and not to be a writer. I have flashes to the stupid thing I said when I was fourteen-.It’s a vicious cycle. During the month, I had been feeling like I wasn’t enough. I was questioning my work and even my MFA program. I always grapple with if I am enough and if I’m doing enough, but going to the Zoom call with Amanda Seales made me change my pajamas and look like a human.

She is what I wish I had growing up. What I wish I saw more of. She allows herself to take up space, she says what she wants, and she is honest with herself and the audience. She spoke about artistry. Seales started to touch my soul and tap my brain when she said, “Black women are The Avengers of the world.”

Many people want to give Black women their flowers in hopes of fragrance (or perfume) in return. She was being genuine and acknowledged the work Black put in today and have put in.Immediately, my cheeks perked up like the Grinch on Christmas eve.

Now if you watch Amanda on Instagram then you know what she talks about. Alongside being herself, BSU asked her questions. Of course, people asked her what non-BIPOC people can do to help non BIPOC people. She was asked about advice she would give her twenty-year-old self and this is where what I needed came when I needed it. Amanda talked about the value of time and giving yourself grace. This is how she phrased it:

 “Remember planting and harvesting don’t happen at the same time. In your 20s you will do a lot of planting and harvesting at the same time. You will see people around you harvesting and you start to freak out. You’ll say, ‘omg. It’s drought. It’s famine.’ [But] They might be harvesting different shit than you. You might be harvesting tomatoes and they are harvesting corn.”

At times, I beat myself or wonder where I went wrong. I wonder why I didn’t do things sooner or later. I wonder why I don’t write more or why I don’t market myself better. I wonder a lot of things related to academia or my personal life. And I realize that I am where I am supposed to be at this moment of my existence. Watching and listening to Amanda Seales helped to ground me.

“Never stop growing your vision, while growing someone else’s. [And] Protect your boundary. Protect your heart. Protect your energy.” A parting message that I needed to snap back to reality.

I’ll always be working on something or towards something. The goal is to not lose myself or the idea of brilliance within that– I deserve to be here, I deserve to take up space, and I deserve to be heard. My work and ideas deserve space.

Thanks Amanda Seales for reminding me of who I am.