If Beyonce is Queen, than Oprah and Ava Duvernay are Goddesses, meant to spread the gospel of Black Beauty, given not only to Black women, but to the world so that you too may understand the power of the Black Woman.
Okay, that is a wee bit dramatic. But in all seriousness, both Ava and Oprah are pillars of the black creative community who work tirelessly illustrating a well-rounded and valuable archetype of black culture across a number of media, all of which is going to peak in a little Disney film called A Wrinkle In Time.
**some vague spoilers about a 55 year old book ahead**
Now, I have AWIT cred, best believe. The first time I read this book, I was probably ten or eleven years old, and since then, I’ve read it at least a hundred times. AWIT is actually the first in a 4 book series that follows Meg and the Murrys through numerous adventures. They’re some of my favorites, traveling with me through moves, marriage and moth balls ever since my mother gave me the books as a high school graduation gift. As much as I love the original text, this film, coming to theatres in March 2018, is set to do something that the book couldn’t fully do for me as a kid, which is to see myself in not only an intellectual context but a tangible physical context as well.
So much of the classic literature that I’ve loved since childhood–Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, Little Women–features intelligent, feisty young white women who overcome their own emotional and physical barriers in order to find happiness, love, family. These are the stories I grew up reading in the quiet of my bedroom, over and over again, and I only had to shift the narrative a little in order to imagine one of these strong leads as a black girl who might look something like me.
For black girl nerds, this is actually a suspension of disbelief we engage in often. From the new Doctor Who to the success of Wonder Woman, women are breaking through the geek glass ceiling, well, white women are. While I’m incredibly excited to have a female Doctor and feminist icons like Diana Prince or Furiosa, black women are still lacking representation in geek culture.
Enter the partnership of Ava and Oprah.
We need to see characters in fiction who look like us fighting evil and winning, because it so very often feels as if we lose.
Oprah and Ava have given us Queen Sugar, 13th, Selma, all important depictions of black life produced at a crucial time in our history, when audiences are very much aware of how much (or how little) black lives matter. It’s no coincidence that Oprah Winfrey has backed a number of Ava Duvernay’s projects, and that the two are working together to bring this classic Sci-Fi story to life on the big screen. For young audiences, this story of perseverance, hope, and using one’s own character strengths (and flaws) to fight against the Biggest Bad is a necessary one to tell, especially in uncertain global political climate we live in. As a black woman, the necessity is a personal one. Myself, my daughter, my sisters, my nieces, my friends–we need to see characters in fiction who look like us fighting evil and winning, because it so very often feels as if we lose. Let Ava bend fiction a bit because it is necessary–Meg Murry isn’t black in the book and I don’t care. I need this, we all do.
I’m rereading A Wrinkle in Time and the entire series this summer, as I do on occasion. This time, I’m allowing myself to imagine a bi-racial family that looks a lot like my own, a young black heroine with natural hair and her genius baby brother getting into adventures across the galaxy with Oprah and Ava at the helm. It’s a heady feeling, to find myself represented. I’m going to enjoy it and pray for more.
xoxo C. Diva