It Don’t Change Nothing. Queen Sugar Review. S3 E1

“It don’t change nothing.

It’s all good.

It don’t change nothing.

It don’t.

It don’t.

It don’t.”

These the words Ralph Angel utters at the end of this season premiere. Words that seem half anthem, half prayer, and are perhaps the best way to describe the theme of this episode. In our effort to navigate this life’s trials and tribulations, there’s the underlying hope that that you will make it out, still whole. That this life’s struggle will not break your spirit, that your soul will remain intact.

Season 2 of Queen Sugar left us with the Bordelones standing at the beginning of major changes.

Charley losing Remy, because she decided to sell her factory to the Landry’s as a Trojan horse tactic in her quest to take them down.

Nova let go of Fine ass Chocolate Dubois, as she realized he wanted to tame her more than he wanted to run wild with her, to go mainstream with their activism rather than stand rooted in the grassroots.

Ralph Angel ended his engagement with Darla, after she told him he might not be Blue father.

Hollywood and Violet got engaged, on the heels of Vi’s diagnosis with Lupus and the beginning of her Boss Lady journey.

The Bordelones are beginning this season trying to settle in major decisions that have just started to rock their world, and figuring out as they go if indeed, “it don’t change nothing”.

Charley goes to visit the Landry Patriarch to put finishing touches on the contracts she has to sign, handing over the Queen Sugar factory. Sam reminds me of the Cheshire cat, with that same grin that sends chills in your spine. He wears his evil on his face.

He gladly reminds Charley that she is to remain as the face on the factory, “to keep up appearances”. That is, to maintain the illusion that this is still a black owned business. This reminds me of those instagram stores that have names like “Afro-urban styles” or “Melanin Power”, to give the illusion that we’re giving our money to a black entrepreneur when it’s really an Aliexpress store in China. Reminds me of the many times we try to support companies like Carol’s Daughter or Shea Moisture before they get bought by companies like L’Oreal. And no shade, I get it. All Black Everything is not easy to do when white supremacy built the system you are trying to navigate. I worry for Charley. White Supremacy is a better shapeshifter than Mystique and mutates faster that the most dangerous viruses. After all, while Sam Landry seems like a one-dimensional villain that’s easy to hate, we are also re-introduced to the cop who brutalized Micah. This time he is out of his uniform, waiting to get into the high school basketball game where Charley and her family happen to be as well. This man who traumatized Micah, is now seen as a grandfather, playing with his grandchild who is just about Blue’s age. He seems innocuous here. A kind and polite gray-haired man, light years far from the person who treated Micah like an animal. But I love this scene because often times in discussions of racism, white veer immediately to Neo-Nazis, almost as a way to say that racism is outlier behavior. It’s the case for all bigotry really. None of us want to see ourselves as culprits or complicits. But bigotry is embedded in our culture. It’s not the Neo-nazis, or the online trolls, or the rapists in dark alleys or the Westboro Baptists protesting the funerals of gay soldiers. It is us, regular folks at family barbecues and basketball games. Charley knows this, and it’s an interesting layer to navigate. Will she emerge from this unscathed, unchanged? Can you make a deal with the devil and still keep your whole soul?

Speaking of all black everything, we meet its poster girl herself, Nova who is in a meeting where she is discussing a book deal with publishers. They’ve read her work, seen her talks and want to publish a compilation of her essays in which she discusses navigating an unjust world while fighting for justice. Nova looks both excited and worried, as they try to sell her on a vision of international book tours, becoming a global voice, a NYT bestseller and publications on the New York Post. She can leave grassroots behind and embrace the world stage. Wasn’t this one of the reasons she argued with Fine Chocolate Dubois? (yes that’s his official name. Judge your own thirst). Charley does remind her that she used to have a poster of Ida Wells on her wall, dreaming of being just like her. She encourages her to go for it, and “ don’t lead with the fear of what might be lead with the strength of who you are”. This fear of leaning into success, is it a matter of impostor syndrome, or a fear that the environment will change you, before you change it?

Two people who have already been changed, are RalphAngel and Blue. Their relationship is not the same it was, of a little boy awestruck by his father and doing as he’s told. Blue talks back now. He’s throwing more tantrums, fighting with other children in school, and well, he wants his momma. Understandable, given that just a few months ago, his parents were going to get married. All he knows is that his parents are not together anymore and he wants his family back. Me too Blue, me too. But it’s no easy feat for RA to navigate his own feeling while trying to shield Blue from everything. How do you maintain this little boy’s innocence amidst the family drama and the cruelty of the world. It’s a reoccurring struggle for Ralph Angel. A little boy who tells Aunt Vi, “have a Blue-themed wedding, so it will be special, because of me”. How do you shield this innocence in a world that doesn’t let black boys be children? I’m reminded on episode 4 of the first season, when Aunt Vi tells RA that his own father protected him too much and he made mistakes because he went into “a world that ain’t got no pedestal” for him. But look at Blue! Doesn’t he just make you want to cover him in bubble wrap so he never gets hurt?

But how do you shield children from pain when young black kids are being brutalized by the police? This is the struggle that Micah is experiencing, a boy who precisely because of his privileged background, was shield much longer than most black kids. But the move to Louisiana and the police brutality incident shook him up quickly. Though he’s much more aware of his place in the world as a black boy, he is still trying to figure out his role in it. In this scene at the basketball game, Micah gets to witness four black kids who decided to take the knee during the national anthem, a la Kapaernick. Four black kids who got booed off and had security dragged them off the court. I should add, scenes like this, or the season 2 scene of Micah’s arrest, always shock me. It never gets easier for me to witness our humanity be disregarded. I know it’s fiction, but it’s also a collective autobiography and the knot in my stomach also shows up. It always makes me want to hold all our hearts and lock them in a box, lest the world succeed in breaking us.

Hollywood is one I know who relates to this need to lock up someone in an ivory tower, to keep them safe. It’s all he seems to want to do with Violet, knowing she is sick. He knows she is a strong and determined woman, but perhaps that’s what worries him even more, because she might not know when to stop. So he tried all he can to protect her, treating her like she is made of glass and might break. He tells her “ I’mma always protect you. I’mma always lift you up. It’s what I do”. But Aunt Vi encourages him to relax. “you don’t always have to protect me. I got wings”. I love this interaction between them because it reminds me it’s possible to redefine the terms of our relationships. What do love and tenderness look like, without a knight in shining armor or a damsel in distress? What is our identity outside of what we think we are?

This crisis of identity is one that Ralph Angel in particular, will now have to navigate, as in this next scene he is waiting in the hospital with Nova and Charley, to find out if indeed he is blue’s father. So much of his identity, was wrapped up in this relationship, especially because the world is determined to see him only as an ex-convict. His relationship with Blue almost feels like a rebirth, a parallel reality that exists outside of his mistakes. When I saw him read the results, I kept hoping he’d be the father. But his eyes blurred by his tears tell us otherwise. And we know that in this moment, everything is different. Everything is different even if RA keeps repeating to himself,

“It don’t change nothing.

It’s all good.

It don’t change nothing.

It don’t.

It don’t.

It don’t.”

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How can I live in a way that makes room for you too? I write for our healing, our love, our redemption. Read me here too==>https://dearbodyproject.com/

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Isabelle dany masado

How can I live in a way that makes room for you too? I write for our healing, our love, our redemption. Read me here too==>https://dearbodyproject.com/