Courtesy of Clutch Magazine
I recall watching Whitney Houstonâ€™s funeral on CNN and cringing as anchor Don Lemon described and contextualized every aspect of her homegoing service. The iconâ€™s funeral was familiar for many black Americans. Outside of the celebrity presence, it didnâ€™t differ much from other funerals Iâ€™ve attended at Baptist churches. But Houstonâ€™s homegoing was a unique experience for the general American public as evidenced by Lemonâ€™s commentary.
Filmmaker Christine Turner dissected African-American funeral traditions in her debut feature documentary â€œHomegoings.â€ The film â€œexplores the African-American funeral home, a 150 year-old institution that is now vanishingâ€ according to a press release. It is â€œtold through the eyes of a Harlem funeral director, Isaiah Owens, and the families he serves.â€
Turner was inspired to create the film after the death of two close relatives with different cultural traditions.
â€œWhen I was 13, both of my grandmothers passed away within two weeks of one another,â€ she said. â€œMy momâ€™s mother, who was Chinese-American, happened to be Methodist and was cremated, which was very atypical for traditional Chinese funerals. My fatherâ€™s mother, who was African-American and Catholic, had an open-casket funeralâ€”the first I had ever attended, leaving an indelible impression on me.â€