"Lovecraft Country": Episode 3, 'Holy Ghost.'
Creator: Misha Green, Episode Directed By: Daniel Sackheim
"I'll never get used to seeing Black people and their bodies be used for the advancement of the yt imagination."- Breanna Taylor
If you have had the opportunity to tune into Misha Green's remix of H.P. Lovecraft's work, 'Lovecraft Country,' then I'm sure you can understand the horror of episode 3, 'Holy Ghost.' What I found to be horrific in the episode was having to see the torn, disemboweled, bodies of Black people that were killed during experimentation. Mind you, our entire way of living is an experiment! While the show itself is situated between, fiction, history, and horror, we all know that the history of experimentation on Black bodies runs deep. In fact, three of the victims' names in the episode (Anarcha, Betsey , and Lucy) were actual victims of J. Marion Sims', who experimented on enslaved Black wimmin. Given that these wimmin were enslaved, they could not consent or reject the operations. It is to be noted that those procedures took place without anesthesia, because he believed 'black people could handle more pain/or not even feel it,' while Anarcha alone had 30 surgical operations that she underwent for him to "perfect" his methods. In being introduced to the term, 'medical superbody,' today and connecting that with the trope of the 'black superwoman,' it is no surprise that this sinful ideology still invades our way of thinking and viewing Black people, and how Black wimmin still bear the brunt of it all. Ironic enough, J. Marion Sims was the first person I thought of when we found out how and why those spirits were trapped in the house in the episode.
I don't think that I will never not be scared or extremely uncomfortable, for lack of a better word when I see dead Black bodies. I can remember the first time I seen Emmett Till's body after his murder and not being able to sleep without a light on, or even visualizing the bodies of Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair after visiting the 16th Street Baptist Church. The countless lynchings that I've been subjected to viewing still ties a knot in my stomach. It wasn't until I learned the stories that I felt this fear somewhat dissipate. In thinking of being introduced to the ghosts before knowing their stories, I believe it highlights a point about the yt imagination and one of the purposes that experimentation serves. White experimentation on Black people’s bodies forces us to see ourselves through their eyes, in fragments, in pieces, torn apart. Does that not scare you at all? I would like to think that when we call to one another, when we lean on one another, and learn the stories of one another, it is there when we realize how whole we’ve been the entire time. We have to acknowledge those as they were before and not who we've been bent to see.
We see this same thing happen with Leti, who goes to investigate the history of the house she bought after receiving a hint that it might be "haunted." What I found to be interesting was the fact that Leti never seen the ghosts until later on, but she knew they were there. She comes to know the stories of the people and later calls on them to help cast out their murderer. Before Hiram (the murderer) completely disappears, he begins to look around the chanting circle. What we come to see are the victims becoming 'whole' again as Hiram (almost Marion's name spelled backwards) fades away. I found this to be the moment that brought me to tears (coupled with the singing of Shirley Caesar). Leti ushers the 'Holy Ghost' into the space through the naming of the victims and the holy work of encouraging them to take part in their own restorative justice. To understand the power of that scene in particular, is to not only imagine what justice could look like going forward, but how we can actually manifest it for those who have passed on. We still walk alongside the ghosts of the past, simply because they haven't passed. Our duty is to learn the stories of those who we have lost in this experimentation and bring them forth. The stories matter, they always have. It’s when we forget them, that we see the ghosts as nothing other than ghosts, in fragments, in pieces, torn apart.
"The past is never dead. It's not even past.”- William Faulkner.
Things to Check Out!
1. #LovecraftCountry hashtag on Twitter!