Friday, February 1, 2019

An Essential Love Story

Photo Credit: Tatum Mangus/Annapurna Pictures

When beginning The Interiors of Man six years ago, I acknowledged James Baldwin as a possible muse, having read his works over the years and living with the constructs of his voice, talent, and ability to express humanity in various measures.

Among the novels Baldwin has written, If Beale Street Could Talk was a quiet gem with cultural relevance, addressing the incarceration epidemic and inadvertently addressing the state of black love as it stands today in comparison to the past.

As the first director to bring Baldwin’s words to film, Barry Jenkins has unveiled an image of black love that is drowning amidst intra-racial violence, crime, and cultural assaults within the black community.  Through Baldwin, Jenkins has turned a lens on sacred, loving relationships that steer from a fantasy-aesthetic to one that’s organically rooted in community struggle and family solidarity. 

If Baldwin were alive, I’m sure he would not be alarmed by the current state of “the village,” having had the insight to foresee its future.  The nurturing love he sowed in this novel through family unity and sacrifice is the underlying message, which needs tending.  A community cannot survive without love for one’s community, and without human love the village will perish.