“Let me get it clear from the start. I know I didn’t get away with nothing but my life.” Fox Rich
Time is fragile, powerful, harmful, and healing. It bends and breaks, borrows and steals our best years, then hands them back to us as memories—and if we’re fortunate, as a blueprint for future possibilities.
Sibil Richardson, wife, mother, daughter, entrepreneur, and abolitionist, knows this on the most intimate level. Her husband Robert Richardson was sentenced to 60 years in prison and held captive in the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, for a bank robbery the couple committed in 1997. Sibil accepted a plea deal and served three and a half years behind bars. Robert served 21 years before being released in September of 2018.
The high school sweethearts, now known as Fox and Rob Rich, are parents to six sons. Two of them, twins Freedom and Justus, spent the first 18 years of their lives with their father locked in a cage. Despite fighting for some semblance of restorative justice, the court decided that Fox and Rob’s lives, and their children’s lives, were worth less than the $5,134.95 recovered in the minutes after the botched bank robbery—a crime committed because the two Shreveport, Louisiana, business owners believed that the so-called American Dream was worth having by any means necessary.
In TIME, the upcoming Amazon Original Movie documenting the Rich family’s often tumultuous and uncertain journey, viewers are invited into Fox’s struggle to keep her family together, while simultaneously holding the broken pieces of her heart. We hear the apathetic responses from court clerks as she calls day after day hoping that someone, anyone, has simply done their jobs and moved Rob’s case one step forward. We see her—with her beloved mother’s help—raise her sons into young men determined to continue fighting to transform the justice system. We root for her as she stares down a system that has heaped so many atrocities upon Black women that it can’t even look us straight in the eye.
“I can’t touch my husband, can’t sleep in the bed with him. Can’t hold him and by law, he belongs to me. … I had to raise my children by myself.” — Fox Rich
Twenty years after first experiencing that trauma during her then husband Rashid’s incarceration, asha bandele, New York Times best-selling author of The Prisoner’s Wife, says that even thinking about it causes her heart to race, breath to tighten, and tears to fall.
“They did everything imaginable to make visiting him harder,” bandele shares with ESSENCE. “I lived in a world where love was treated as an act of terrorism.”
A sobering 2015 New York Times study found that, “of the 1.5 million missing Black men from 25 to 54—which demographers call the prime-age years—higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost 1 in 12 Black men in this age group are behind bars.”
But these men are not missing; they have been stolen—just as Fox and Rob Rich were stolen from their communities. This nation has ripped apart so many Black families with precision and vicious consistency, stolen so much of our time. We’re still here, though—still fighting, still believing that we will win.
What TIME shows so beautifully is the revolutionary power of radical Black love.
The determined wife and mother of six never perpetuates the fraudulent notion that you must be flawless to have value. She is accountable to her family and to her community, while also realizing that the shame of the prison industrial complex is not hers to hold. She walks into every room expecting to be treated with dignity and respect. She knows that her life matters—and so does her husband’s. And they both know that their family, and so many others like theirs, deserve to be whole, healthy, and together.
“Time is what you make of it,” Justus Richardson, Fox and Rob’s son, said. “Time is unbiased. Time is lost. Time flies. This situation has just been a long time. A really long time.”
Against all odds, Fox Rich is a warrior woman fighting to reclaim her family’s time.
TIME is directed by Garrett Bradley, and produced by Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn, Garrett Bradley. It will appear in select theaters on October 9, 2020, and worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on October 16, 2020.