Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Black Mothers Fighting to Get Their Kids Back, in “To Be Invisible”

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The documentary short “To Be Invisible,” directed by Myah Overstreet, follows two young Black mothers, Alexis and Kellie, as they work to reunite their families. Alexis and Kellie have had children removed from their care, and must navigate a complex bureaucratic system as they try to get them back. We see Alexis talking on the phone with her children; their loving connection is clear. We see her practicing an impassioned speech, which she’ll deliver to a judge, about why she should get back custody of her kids.

Alexis and Kellie are part of a larger movement to abolish the child-welfare system, arguing that it too often removes Black and brown children from their families of origin and places them in foster care unnecessarily. Overstreet was deeply drawn to this form of activism. She writes that “Black and brown womxn using their voices to reclaim what is theirs—their bodies, their children, and their motherhood—is such a beautiful sight.” While working on the film, she began to understand how harsh and seemingly arbitrary the child-welfare system can be: “When I learned that a parent could complete all of their assigned parenting classes, attend therapy sessions, pay child support, show up to all of their visitations, continue to parent their child from afar, and still be denied rights to the child, I was truly blown away.”

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