by Nia Robinson
“Respect”, a biopic on the late Aretha Franklin, was filled with beautiful acting, singing and storytelling. It was a production she would have been proud of. Viewers of all ages got to view how impeccable Franklin was her entire life, but also got to understand the challenges that she faced.
The first incident that viewers were introduced to was her mother’s passing. Franklin was an adolescent when her mother passed away, which left a painful imprint on her development. Though her grandmother played a motherly role, Franklin was still wounded. As she journeyed on, she faced becoming a teen mom, experiencing a hypercritical father and enduring abusive romantic relationships. Still, through all her troubles, she became a renowned singer, and her gift continued making room for her.
She sang. She traveled. She interviewed. She sold out events. However, her gift could not make up for the challenges she faced, the harsh words her lovers called her and the guilt she experienced for not being the sole caretaker of her children. Her gift was being nurtured and developed, but her inner self was suffering. She longed for something to fill her voids — a peace. The troubling part is that what she longed for would ultimately lead to deeper devastation.
One night during a show in Europe, Franklin tumbled off the stage. She reached a point where she couldn’t fake it anymore – she needed help. Drunkenness took a hold on her, and it pushed her into a cage filled with darkness. Franklin was gifted, but was struggling addiction.
As I reflect on Franklins’ catastrophes, I realize how humans can be so talented, yet so wounded. Our gifts can make room for us, but our inner sufferings can cause us to sabotage opportunities. As we flourish with our talents, let us remember to give our inner selves the space to flourish as well.