I have loved the way that the Black women characters have been brought to the forefront of the storytelling in Misha Green’s thrilling and provocative show Lovecraft Country. The uninterrupted wrath of Ruby. The expansive world and identities of Hippolyta. The resolve of Leti. Yet Diana’s (Dee) plot line in the latest episode, “Jig-a-Bobo”, reminded me of the silenced pain of Black girls.
In my co-authored book A FLY Girl’s Guide to University, I began my chapter “From Overwhelmed to Empowered” with a quote from Khadijah White that I have returned to many times over the years as I discuss the ways in which the world punishes Black girls for daring to be:
“But the horror of that moment stays with me, the realization that being smart and working hard might never be enough. I wasn’t sure how I could survive a world that would constantly question my abilities, give me more obstacles than my peers, and then downplay my achievements when I somehow managed to deliver. I was overwhelmed by the thought of having to be a black girl for the rest of my life.“-Khadijah White
I was excited when we first met Dee as viewers. Excited that Dee was a Black girl instead of a boy like in the book the television show is based on. Dee has an incredible imagination, drawing upon her creativity to create comics for her dad and then her mother. She is also intuitive and can tell when something is wrong. We see that time and again in Episode 8 when Dee can sense that something is wrong about her mother being gone this long. The whereabouts of Hippolyta are unknown to Tic at this time who was the last character to see her.
Yet in the opening scenes of Episode 8, while at the traumatic viewing of Emmett Till’s (Bobo’s) body, Ruby, Tic, and Leti all lose track of Dee. Their minds are elsewhere, fanning away the heat of the day, but with no real mind to the hole that Dee has in her life from the death of her father and mysterious disappearance of her mother. Dee is alone, yet none of them see that as a reason to keep her that much closer.
This disregard for what Dee is going through continues throughout the episode. Ruby, who Hippolyta had left Dee with, does not stay by Dee’s side as her mother has not returned and her best friend has been senselessly murdered. Instead, Ruby retreats to the “safety” of Christina and the white neighborhood and large house she has been staying at. Even when a white neighbor questions what she is doing in the area and she snaps at him, she still does not use it as a moment to return to her home community, and we never see her at any point in the episode look for Dee or feel concern over Dee’s well-being.
Tic and Leti provide no different storyline. It’s Tic and Leti we see first broach the topic of Hippolyta’s fate at the start of the episode, with Leti wanting to talk to Dee about her mother not coming home, and Tic dismissing that idea. Their charged conversation about Hippolyta’s whereabouts happens in conjunction with both of them and Ruby losing track of Dee in the casket viewing line. Too busy arguing about whether or not Hippolyta is coming home to focus on how they can be present for Dee, a girl who had lost so much within a short period of time.
What we see instead from Tic is a concentration on saving the future. He knows that Leti is pregnant because of the book he got when he went through the portal to the future in Episode 7. He knows they are meant to have a son that they will name after Uncle George. Tic states throughout the episode that he is concerned about futures, and the future of his family. Yet at no point in the episode is Tic protective of Dee. This is because Tic is concerned about his future, which he has defined as his immediate family and bloodline in his current attempts at using magic. Why is Dee not part of that future? Why is it people who do not exist yet? Dee is part of the family’s lineage, yet existing in the shadows, while haunted by monsters.
Dee being the only one who can see Topsy and Bopsy as they continue to terrorize her was the part of the episode that struck me the most. I thought about how often Black girls are terrorized and that terror goes unchecked or unbelieved. The monsters of inappropriate touches by older family members. The monsters of law enforcement and stripped childhoods. The monsters of being encouraged to state their opinions and then being punished for it and pushed out of school. Just like the sinister police officer, the world has marked Black girls with an ugly glob of spit that haunts them, always making them fear being too much and too little, believed and listened to, for the rest of their lives. The marks of girlhood follow us into adulthood. Montrose, who is arguably haunted by many monsters of his own, is the only character who pays attention to Dee.
Black girls are brilliant and beautiful whether or not they are seen. And they’ll grow up to be beautiful and brilliant Black women. We know Hippolyta is coming back for Dee, but why should Hippolyta have to tear herself away from the expanses of the universe and herself because no one else is coming to save Dee?
If we care about Black futures, then as a community we must not let our Black girls and their pain become invisible to us. If they are to grow up to be the multitudes that Hippolyta found in herself in “I AM”, then they need our attentions now. We cannot lose sight of them.