When you think of the terror that has been inflicted on the black church in this country time and again, how do you imagine you might feel if the black church was that first place of faith for you? Would you feel safe to worship in the space where you truly felt at home?
Amidst the love I feel for my blackness, nothing is quite so magical as witnessing the strong, deep bonds of love between us: romantic, platonic, and familial.
Can you imagine the connection students might feel to history if it were intentionally made concrete and brought near to them rather than remaining an abstract, olden time amoeba?
Whether we assimilate completely to the dominant culture’s ideals, religion, even monetizing white-centric punditry into a career, or we focus our efforts on honing our talent to become excellent and give back to build up our community – we cannot escape this caste.
I’m deeply grateful for the artistic choices Chadwick Boseman made, that broke box office record expectations for a black-led movie, that made star-struck young children want to attend historically black colleges and universities, that provided hope, relief, and joy for an audience full of people like me who are so grossly underrepresented in such beautiful, thorough artistic endeavors.
Our society seems to have deemed it necessary to punish teens for looking like adults by sentencing them – even if only in the court of public opinion – like adults.
Truly, is it any wonder that we may find ourselves unable to connect the cross and the lynching tree, when the gross brutality of lynching has been almost entirely left out of the Savior narrative espoused in too many of our pulpits?
We cannot hide behind the cross of Christ and the promise of future spiritual unity and reconciliation, declaring thereby that we have transcended all the troubles of the world because Jesus saves. Because the call is coming from inside the church house.
When you watch Jingle Jangle, I hope you will move a step beyond passively taking in all the joy and beauty it offers to ask yourself when you last saw such lovingly crafted black characters on screen, how many heartwarming holiday movies uplift a wholesome image of a black family, and what it means for girls to see themselves represented as talented and determined and curious and bold.
So if Pixar is going to wait twenty-five years to give paying audiences a black protagonist, we can damned well insist they give us a thoughtful, human story – just as they have with all the white protagonists before.