Two nights ago I got the chance to watch season one episode five of “Lovecraft Country,” which is a new show from HBO that is based on the novel “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff.
So far I have enjoyed every other episode, except episode five. Episode five is the most confronting episode that has me stuck on the question of “Who am I uninterrupted?”
This question occurs during this episode when the character Ruby Baptiste has a discussion with a white man named William. He made a potion that allowed Ruby to turn into a white woman, and William reinforces this idea of magic and how it can work in favor of a black woman like Ruby. Ruby realizes how her identity has inhibited her from getting her dream job at a popular department store that was taken by another Black woman. Ruby stresses to William how she is tired of being “interrupted” by her intersectional identity or the social constraints of Jim Crow and segregation.
As Ruby takes on the form of a white woman she realizes the privileges that are accredited when taking on such a body that society loves to prioritize. As a white woman, she makes the decision to apply to a department store job that she wants, and she was able to be hired on the spot. However, there is an eeriness that overshadows the conversation between Ruby in her white form and the black department worker. Between the two you could see that there is a painful presence of envy that gets encapsulated with every word that was spoken by Ruby. As the episode progresses there are a series of horrific things that Ruby gets exposed to in her white body. However, there was a distinctive moment when Ruby was transforming from her white skin, she sees through the corner of her eye that her white male manager was sexually assaulting the black female department store worker. Ruby seeks retaliation by inciting sexual violence on this man, but as she incites such sexual violence in this gory scene, she sheds her white skin in order for the white manager to see that a black woman did this to him.
Through this episode, I realized that being “uninterrupted” means that you get to have the full functioning freedom of being human. Humanization is easy to come by when you are white, especially since privileges are at your disposal. I can’t help but fear the type of person that I would be if I were to emulate whiteness as a woman. Though I can’t deny that there have been multiple instances in my life where I did wish I was white. To me, whiteness and freedom are synonymous words that are regulated by privileges that are unattainable to a person like me. Experiencing this world as both being black and woman I can not help but feel that white people have the luxury of being uninterrupted. For me, it is painful to confront such an unspoken truth and this episode really posed such an internal conflict that I have yet to heal from.
As I walk on this earth as a black woman I hate the fact that there is an unsettling reality that I will always be interrupted and that I can not fully exist as an entity that gets to pursue this world freely at my desire.