Jonnie identifies as an African American woman and mother whose experiences were shaped by growing up in San Diego during the race riots of the late 60’s. She recalls the times when she was viewed as less valuable because of her skin color, because of being a single parent, or because of being a woman. She describes how, “I always felt like I had to say something about my education or I have to say this before I feel like, you know, people kind of validate me. You know. A lot of times I’ve had to do that. Or they just, they make assumptions that you know, you don’t have an education, or you know, you’re just a project mother that doesn’t care about your kids. They don’t know anything about me, but people really do make assumptions.” She tells us about the one person who told her she could make it, and the importance of that message in the face of so many others who tried to tell her she couldn’t.
Jonnie’s Reflections and what she’s up to now:
This film changed my life, in a sense because for the first time many will hear my voice.
Every time I view the film is it surreal. I can’t believe that I was that open about just some of the issues that I have experienced. But it was also was a way for me to really assess where I am and what I have been through in my life. It was cathartic to say my peace/piece. I find that my circumstances says that I should not be where I am today, that I should have committed suicide or be in a mental hospital. I often wonder where did the strength and courage come from? Then I also remember what I have learned and witnessed from my ancestors and what they have endured. I also think about my mother who graduated valedictorian in her high school class and because she was pregnant, she was forced to marry by her parents. What would her life been if she had the chance to become a writer (she was an excellent writer and loved to write poetry). She stayed in an abusive marriage until the day she died because she did not have the economic means to divorce. The same situation with my maternal grandmother: she lived in the confines of marriage too. One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is Hebrews 12:1. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinder…that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. I carry the unfulfilled dreams, deferred dreams and unrealized ambitions of my ancestors and they are watching me and are my witnesses. I can’t allow oppression, poverty and hatred hinder me to the point that I can’t run my race. My testimony in the film is about hope. I must finish my race.
Currently: I still work in the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion and plan to finish my Professional Counseling degree soon. I work with the HCWC as board president and also the president of the Coalition of Black Faculty and Staff. I also have a support group for single parents.
One response to “Jonnie”
Jonnie’s strength shines through when she speaks. She names the challenges she has faced with confidence and poise, showing that she is greater than they would have ever thought. She now uses her growth to support the people in her life and that is inspiring.