Sopera de Yemaya is an experimental short film in multiple chapters. Yemaya is the Ocean Mother Orisha (deity) in Santería, an Afro-Caribbean religion rooted in Yoruba culture and brought to the Americas, mainly Cuba and Brazil, by enslaved Africans. Yemaya has many caminos (paths) that represent different aspects of her power and divinity, the different natural landscapes she inhabits, and determine how her devotees and petitioners should engage with her in ritual. These caminos were filmed while Courtney Morris was pregnant and are part of a very personal and deep journey towards motherhood as well as an awakening to the inner forces of spirituality, embodying the divine, and the grounded concerns of becoming a mother in a moment of resurgent anti-black racism, state violence, political instability, and global pandemic.
This chapter was filmed in the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, triggering widespread protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, which brought state and police violence to the forefront of public discourse. It also examines the structural differences black mothers experience as they have to confront the possibility of their children’s deaths, as in the case of Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown (1996-2014), and Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till (1941-1955), who are both featured in the film. These two mothers are accompanied by reports of an orca who carried her dead calf in the water for 17 days in 2018. Morris confronts the ways in which white supremacy—as a social and ecological project—disregards the interior lives of racialized and indigenous people and our animal relations on this planet. The soundscape includes Morris singing, her breath, and the beating heart of her daughter in utero.