Conceptualizing and directing this music video was deeply cathartic for me. In my experience, when a community encounters trauma, words and clear thoughts fall outside of the grasp of those affected. Reactions to several events leading up to the creation of this video echoed this truth. It seemed like every time I logged into social media, I encountered reports of violence against black lives. Many of these lives belonged to men. Black Lives Matter emerged and I was glad, but hesitant. I was hesitant to repeat the same responses of our ancestors in the wake of a deepening societal chasm caused by the repetition of the same violence stemming from the same fear; in the wake of a growing realization that no matter how much we protested, our screams continued to fall upon deaf ears. As thousands mobilized toward a floating destination known as justice, the names of the women killed, particularly by police continues to be less known.

Sandra Bland died in police custody after a traffic stop one day after I submitted my vision for this video to Dave. In my initial submission (treatment), I included a dedication to many, including, our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, daughters, lovers, wives, friends, ancestors, and specifically: Aiyana Jones , Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey, Shelly Frey, Malissa Williams, Alesia Thomas, Rekia Boyd, Shereese Francis, Tarika Wilson, Kathryn Johnston...

An ellipses followed that list because I knew there would be more. I knew I would shed more tears thinking of their lives, their families, and the continued pain imposed upon more and more people. And there were more...

The violence directed toward the black feminine body has transpired in more than just the literal policing of our bodies. It has culminated in a groundswell encompassing negative propaganda derived from a white supremacist culture of rape and its residual effects which are countless and muddy. Despite, this unfortunate historic transgression, in my utilization of awareness and love of self, I’ve come to understand that the black feminine body represents resilience, love, nurture, nature, substance, and necessity. But more is needed to ensure these representations become the status quo. It is imperative now, more than ever, that we align ourselves with/ begin to ensure that the rhetoric surrounding the feminine body, especially the black feminine body, both from ourselves and others, reflects the truth of the fact that we are the shit.

I wasn’t sure how I would respond to my own call to action, so I started with creation. I wanted this video to be vibrant and subdued, fast and slow, dark and light. I wanted it to reflect the multi-faceted beauty and strength of black women and all people. When I hear “you da shit” girl, it reaffirms what I have grown to understand: I am a person, a woman worthy of love and respect; my life is deeply valuable; Yeah, I'm the shit!

To me, "you da shit" extends to our communities as well. Thanks to my formal legal training and my current career as an attorney, I recognize patterns in society and the ways certain communities are impacted by these patterns. I understand that in order to conquer a people, they must be divided. Observing the rhetoric being recycled in mass media and on social media, I do my best to counter these patterns, to plant the seeds of love (of self and others), empowerment, progress. Going further, I look at the state of gentrified and displaced communities and revel in the understanding that no matter what, resilience is and has always been the unifying factor among adversely affected communities of color. This video gave me another opportunity to plant these seeds. To me, it’s never about the harvest. It’s about planting and tilling positivity so that its roots extend deeper into the earth, anchoring us, forming a foundation that can never be broken. This is what I see in "You da shit." I hope you enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed making it. I hope you are inspired to change negative tendencies within yourself in order to solidify a mind, body and spirit that cannot be erased at the hands of those who fail to see that you, me, we…are the shit.

Thank you, Dave, Sam, Naima, Je, all the wonderful people who agreed to be in this video, and my wonderful editor/producer/husband: Nelson Nance. Thank you.

We challenge you to shoutout ladies you admire via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #YouDaShitGirl. Please tag their handles, if possible — and feel free to share to your networks!

Gold Standard Creative® 2016