Ava DuVernay's Queen Sugar arrives at a defining moment in American cultural life, as politics and art converge in an unprecedented moment for black creativity. The unapologetic emergence of full-fledged black subjectivity onscreen runs parallel to a new chapter in the civil rights movement. Black Lives Matter has propelled long-overdue conversations about policing, the prison-industrial complex, inequality, and structural barriers into the mainstream. The ongoing renaissance in television enabled by streaming platforms and new revenue models has opened doors for artists to explore these issues with revived creative freedom. The feisty sitcoms and criminal dramas that have contained black lives for far too long have been surpassed in quality by works more ambitious, aesthetically daring, and politically relevant. Whether it is FX's Atlanta created by and starring Donald Glover, Marvel's Luke Cage on Netflix, or the intergenerational family politics of Queen Sugar, there isn't a more exciting time to watch black lives matter and shimmer on American screens.
Elsewhere: The Cultural Consolation of Ava DuVernay's Queen Sugar
Bilal Qureshi is a writer and cultural critic exploring the intersection of international politics, identity, and art. During 2008–15 he served as producer, editor, and reporter for NPR's All Things Considered. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, and NPR's Code Switch.
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Bilal Qureshi; Elsewhere: The Cultural Consolation of Ava DuVernay's Queen Sugar. Film Quarterly 1 March 2017; 70 (3): 63–68. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2017.70.3.63
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