The Wiz Live burst onto our television screens last night, leaving traces of shea butter, black excellence, and the joy of one thousand Baptist fits. The cast - which included big names such as Stephanie Mills, Queen Latifah, and Mary J. Blige as well as newcomer Shanice Williams - paraded blackness dipped in gold and jade across our living rooms. It was pure unbridled joy drenched in molasses and browned butter.
It was a moment for black folks. A moment of unity and powerful representation during which black folks of all shapes, sizes, and colors showed off their acting and singing chops in a celebration of artistry the color of smooth onyx.
Somewhere, someone is writing a think piece about The Wiz Live…
About how it’s representative of the way black joy and self-actualization overcome adversity and how the revolution was led by a young brown girl who persevered even when the men in the movement started to turn their backs on her. ‘Cause black girls are magic. They’ll rave about her womynism ‘cause “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with being a woman.”
They’ll describe how the Emerald City represents the most liberated form of black consciousness where dark skinned women with natural hair are revered, queer culture is prevalent, and the land is ruled by a genderqueer leader. They’ll critique the conditions in which the gender non-conforming wizard had to present as masculine in order to be perceived as powerful in Oz, because patriarchy exists in even the most “woke” spaces. And that masculinity is a construct; it's farce; it's so fragile that it can be torn away like a curtain.
They’ll also offer commentary about how the most wicked presence in Oz is the embodiment of oppression leftover from colonialism (with a reference to Evilene’s Elizabethan garb for good measure) and how Dorothy and her friends were only liberated when that oppressive regime was killed rather than infiltrated. (You can’t dismantle Evilene’s Oz with Evilene’s tools)
They will point out how the good witch of the South enlightened Dorothy by telling her to reject validation through materialism in the form of fancy shoes, instructing her to believe in herself instead. Then they will unpack the soul stirring ending song, comparing Dorothy’s longing for home with the homelessness associated with being black – especially a black woman – in America.
Somewhere, someone is writing that piece. It ain’t me though. ;-)