Hi Felicia: I See You
This past weekend, we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of “Friday”, the legendary classic hood movie starring Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long, John Witherspoon, Angela Means Kaaya. As fortune would have it we were able to have Angela Means Kaaya, the actress who portrayed Felicia in the film, join us on the show the Monday following the 25th Anniversary. One thing The Black Lunch Break did not expect was how the dichotomy of “Felicia from Friday” and the complexity of all that occurred throughout the film and with the characters affects our people in more ways than we are aware and how we need to join the conversation in a deeper sense.
It begs the question have many of us always been dismissive of “Felicia” of the Felicias in our lives? (Her name in the film was actually spelled “Felisha”). The Felicias from our hoods? While we have unconsciously been abusive in our nature of energy exchange towards real life people that remind us of the character we know as Felicia, what we may not realize is that when the entity known as Felicia was created; did she become a microcosm of how disconnected we truly can be from the battered, the abused, the suffering woman. Many often tell the “Felicias” of today “Bye” without contextualizing the depth of all she has endured. In many ways Felicia was the invisible, the unprotected, struggling Black Woman. “Bye Felicia” Who is the joke really on?
Angela Means Kaaya, also known as Felicia, is the founder and owner of Jackfruit Cafe in Los Angeles, California. She credits Friday as being the ‘lightning in the bottle’ that helped amplify her voice. 25 years ago after traveling the world exploring her talents as a model and comedienne, she packed up her things leaving Atlanta headed to Los Angeles with a list of things she wanted to accomplish. Kaaya says, ‘Tell your friends, anything you want to do, write it down, internalize it, and it’s yours!’ She mastered her list in divine order through the power of words, writing and vision. This list included scoring the role of an interesting character aka Felicia.
Before we dive into a case study of Felicia, let’s bust down three myths; the hood, drugs and money. First of all, the hood is not ghetto, some people may be but that is not exclusive to the hood, it’s exclusive to a person. It’s ghetto folks that are rich and not in the hood, baby. The hood is poverty stricken and every house hold is not single parent driven. Stop it! The family dynamics displayed in the film is something the culture is familiar with but we have to unfamilIarize ourselves with the categories we place ourselves in and be specific in who we are and how we ended up there. Second, drugs, DBo was not a drug dealer, he was a muthfukn bully and Felicia ain’t a crack head, she smoked that sticky icky, just like Smokey nem but nahhhh we want her to be cracked out. Once again, CHILL! And number three, money; Felicia was not trying to pawn no damn microwave nor VCR. She was trying to PreRecord Netflix and Chill with her boo. Just chill, man!
‘I knew people weren’t looking at it for what it was and we needed those laughs because in the 90s they portrayed us as animals but Friday gave a real look inside LA and family; funny and dysfunctional,’ says Kaaya, ‘But we gotta do a case study and look at how we treat the dysfunction in our community and how we are so quick to cancel each other. Look at how they embraced pushing her away. Felicia is an OG #METOO too and she needs love!’ As my crew partners and I sat in awe in how Angela flipped the damn script, we were thoroughly engaged in the conversation happening. Show Host Cirilo commented, ‘I didn’t even ask about Felicia’s story, I just assumed.’ So many of us are guilty of the same. Psychiatrist Dr. Colibri Jenkins commented during the live that our behavior is similar to ‘Group Think’ which was reintroduced to many of us by Erykah Badu during the promotion of her controversial video shoot to her song ‘Window Seat’ filmed in Downtown Dallas, Texas where she stripped naked for a social experiment on all our asses! Go look it up.
Friday is a comedy and as a comedy it did what it was supposed to do, it made us laugh. There were times however that were deeper than we may have perceived at the time. We laughed but we should really look into why we are laughing. And it was plain as day that we found ourselves in Mental Health Monday without planning it. The conversation took a beautiful turn with Angela sharing so many gems, I believe we were a little overwhelmed yet so thankful to have the necessary conversation. During the 20th Anniversary of Friday, Ice Cube approaches Angela asking if she could believe that the movie all came down to her and that moment showed her the true gravity of what that ‘lightning in a bottle’ actually contained and the true gravity of what brought her into the lifestyle she lives today, eight years ago.
But there is so much gravity that we must understand. We have to understand that we must SEE each other. We have to understand that laughing at dysfunction is internally laughing at self. We have to understand that we have so many conversations that need our attention. We left The Black Lunch Break feeling different about the all time famous line, ‘Bye Felicia!’ and exactly why you should never say that line to a black woman ever again. So with that being said,
I SEE YOU! How can I help, sis?