[GUIDE]: Julie Dash's 'Daughters of the Dust'
Daughters of the Dust is a story that crosses, develops and remembers spatial and temporal boundaries. This movie depicts the Peazant family days before a defining transition from the isolated and preserved islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia to the awaiting "promises" of the mainland. What inspires faith in the ability and action of change?
And what does the proof of change serve as? Viola Peazant, one of Nana Peazant's granddaughters who has already moved to the mainland and actively practices ignoring her roots, her origin ways. It seems the mainland has taught her to shame the differences that make her unique, that allow her to own, embrace and explore her individuality. Almost like a welcome voyeur, Viola Peasant invites Mr. Snead, a photographer, to document the migration of her family from its home-land to "the mainland", a different and waiting place.
- What refuses to leave us? What finds ways to enter us? How are we made aware? How are we asked to be active and reactive? Is choice present in this process?
- What do you take from the past to inform your current experience? How do you appreciate this gift? It is survival, this forgiveness, we continue because of it.
How do you your experiences inform new understandings, new ways of living? How do we forgive Time? What is the cost of forgiving Time?
- What creates us? How do we honor what creates us? How do we determine and define what creates us? Is it even important? How do we keep (hold, hoard, possess) understanding? And how do we keep understanding? How do we extend understanding to the circumstances that create (make from scratch) and develop (mold what clay we’ve been given) us?
Nana Peazant is seen visiting with her late husband, Shad Peazant. It is discovered that this is a daily ritual for her "ever since the day him died." She goes on to say, 'man's power doesn't end with death.'
How does death transform the voices of the departed? What do we choose to listen for? How do we determine what’s worth internalizing?
What can’t escape our ears or our psyche? And how? How do we grow, acknowledge, understand and develop through this communication?
- What we know and what we are is the same experience translating itself in unique perspectives. How do we show ourselves? What do we learn from ourselves? What do we teach ourselves?
We always know ourselves, things beyond our control make use doubt this self-awareness.
Nana Peazant seeks to remind Eli of what he has as he is currently experiencing hopelessness. She asks him to call on the memories, wisdom and strength of the ancestors to guide him. Faith without works is dead.
Memories are blueprints of ancestry that survive in the breath of descendants. How are we trusting this breath? Accessing it? Utilizing it? Work it over and over into your present-memory to become a habit. This is how saviorism is adapted into personal strength - from the love and lives of those before us to guide us to love and lead ourselves.
- How are you honoring, keeping the relationship between self and ancestor fluid and sacred?
Yellow Mary and Trula are escorted to the beach where Haagar Peazant and the women of the family are preparing a traditional meal for the feast. After awkward introductions are exchanged, Yellow Mary presents Haagar with a tin of store-bought biscuits. Haagar accepts them unenthusiastically, suspicious of why Yellow Mary has returned after leaving the island for the mainland some time before.
This particular quote is telling because of the symbolism applied. Buzzards normally circle around something that has died. They have a purpose — to feed off of the dead. How does change sustain?
- How are we warned of transition? How are we paying attention? And when?
How are we understanding and gauging our vigilance?
Why don’t we take warnings, signs, intuitions serious?
Why does tragedy make/allow guidance and understanding seem valid and real?
- What is stillness worth in comparison to the cost of change? Note how you grow in stillness and its triggers.
What feelings do our memories hold?
- Our ancestors are our root of determination. The unseeable future of their descendants, you and yours now, was enough to trust and believe in their impact. How dare you disrespect the work and faith of your ancestors by naming yourself undeserving and unworthy?
Document yourself and your life. Document what you was, are, and will become. Document the phases because of their individuality and unique character as well as how it contributes to change. Who you are and what you impact are a part of why you're here. You are not just alive for yourself, you are alive to contribute to the potential of change and difference to a new future that you may not even see. You are someone's ancestor whether in thought, in spirit, in energy or in the physicality of existence. It is important to know how you see yourself. It is important to understand what you take from how you see yourself. The way you see yourself is important because those before you watch, to keep you safe. The way you see yourself is important because those ahead of you watch, to have an example.
- The duties of our understanding, the rent we pay to live with our intuition in peace and not pain. At least not for long and certainly not without a lesson.
Listen for what is yours to know. Discernment requires focus. Focus requires interest to be present, which interest is left up to your desire. You can be eager to know which requires discipline or pay interest for taxing a person or circumstance of their energy, used to teach you a lesson from an experience you think you want to come to pass. And when experiences come to pass, they can cross you. Be aware to remember, be brave to recall.
Nana Peazant is relaying how transition (moving from one state of being to another) and change (the events that express transition) are a part of her lineage's physical presence. Tradition and modernity have their place alongside one another. Tradition was once characterized as new, different and strange. Tradition adapts to time by being fulfilled in the people it resonates with. Tradition is worth keeping as expressed in its staying power. Modernity is the transformation of tradition to adapt to current and future needs, even though we can never prepare for time.
A charge to continue. Given by the matriarch of the Peazant family, Nana Peazant, exemplifies the hope and the hesitancy of being on the island. The shared fear, between them and her, shows itself in varying intensities. All of these intensities are reflections of circumstances that are seeking solutions. Be defined by your ability to overcome, not by a moment that keeps you bound to learning and adapting the ways circumstances seek to test, interrupt and ultimately weaken you. How are you living to continue?
Relief is a possibility. Pain, its hurt and the lingering wound are not the only understandings of reality. There is more to your life story than struggle and victimization. Pain will know its moment in your body, do not let this deter you from forgiveness and its fruit, understanding. Forgiveness is for and towards yourself, understanding is for and towards others.
How are you being owned by your past? How is fear working in your life? What do you need to reconcile so you can release yourself into the freedom of existing in your presence? What do you need to reconcile so you can give yourself permission and responsibility to determine yourself?
- Ancestral commitment to see the fruition of the future come to pass.