I marvel at the times in which we live. A time that will be long-remembered. A time that will be long-studied. The question is: remembered for what? The answer is up to us.
As an artist, I’m grateful that I live at a time when access to cameras and distribution platforms and ways to reach audiences outside of the normal Hollywood infrastructure are more possible for me, a black person, a woman, than ever before. My voice as a storyteller and vision as a filmmaker can be amplified without the permission of the privileged few who have held marginalized creators at arm’s distance for decades. There is fresh air circulating, powering a new perspective.
It’s not just artists that find ourselves in more dynamic positions of amplification. New platforms have expanded for everyone thanks to a free and open Internet. Right now, if you want to share your opinion, you don’t have to gain access to a reporter and solicit a newspaper article–a long shot by any means. Today, you’re able to express yourself through words and images on a variety of public platforms and make yourself heard and seen. These moments of visibility are vital as we encounter an era of uncertainty, divisiveness and leaderlessness.
As a student of history, what gives me hope in these tenuous times is the knowledge that there is precedent for change and there’s precedent for hope. Hope has bred change again and again. To be hopeless is to disregard history. It is to foreground the present moment in a distorted way, one that is pedestrian and unelevated. For we know that the world isn’t only happening now. Everything has happened before. And everything will happen again.
And so that’s what gives me hope: to know that this present moment will be the past soon and the future is what we will make it. A future of voices lifted and visions realized. A future of declaring our presence and sharing our opinions unfiltered and unafraid. A future built on reclaiming what has been taken and what has been lost. A future shaped by our striving to answer to the question “remembered for what” with the very best within us.
DuVernay, an Oscar nominee, directed Selma, 13th and the forthcoming A Wrinkle in Time
This appears in the January 15, 2018 issue of TIME.