Thursday, July 19, 2018

Queen Sugar; Ralph Angel & Darla Love Affair.

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Ent., News, Opinion, Relationships, Weekly Columns

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( Ava Duvernay’s Queen Sugar: To Usward (S2 E2) written by Jason Wilborn is wrought with authentic depictions of fragmented African American relationships that work to expand the limited narrative of black romance too often glamorized in pop culture today. There is a scene at the center of this episode between the characters Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) and Darla (Bianca Lawson) that speaks to the challenge many young couples struggle to overcome.

Ralph Angel, a reformed delinquent, and Darla, a recovering addict, are working to rehabilitate their union while struggling to absolve the contradictions of their pasts and redeem their respective identities. There are many objectives at work here, and this romance is making a strong comment on the ever evolving complexities of the human condition present in every relationship. Regardless of class, race, or gender, we all have vices. More importantly, we all have difficulty interpreting how our lovers experience us apart from the vices we suppress to exist in communities made up of rules, traditions, and judgments – and therefore strain our romantic relationships while trying to live up to unhealthy expectations.

In this scene, Ralph Angel has taken Darla on what he maintains is a proper date. He wears a tie and pays for the meal. While this is not an antiquated image of black male masculinity, (for the reason that it is important for black male youths to see themselves as voluntary providers) this is not the aspect of the scene I want to meditate on here. As the beat unfolds, we learn Ralph Angel has just enough money to cover the bill, and so he does not leave a tip. And when Darla calls him on it and proceeds to pay the tip herself, he urges her not to because they are on a proper date.

It is in this moment, played subtly by Siriboe and Lawson, where gestures alone communicate the challenge facing the young couple. In a tender debate over the tip she insists on paying their nasty waiter, this couple gathers the remnant of their respective identities – his delinquency – her addiction – and when Darla delivers the line of dialogue: let’s just be us, they embark on a journey to escape the pressure of societal norms.

It is a small answer to the big problem(s) black men and women inherit trying to love one another in a country where our relationships have been historically devalued; But it is the best answer we can have as marginalized people – let’s just be us. And in doing so – create our own standards for the love we make.

Catch episodes of Queen on OWN Wednesday 10PM ET.

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