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The Cast of ‘Lovecraft Country’ Weighs in on Racial Parallels in Today’s Society
by Dontaira Terrell
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August 28, 2020

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7 Minute Read

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The Cast of ‘Lovecraft Country’ Weighs in on Racial Parallels in Today’s Society

Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO
Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Lovecraft Country let me be the first to say, you’re missing out. I got a sneak peek of the first half of the ten-episode series and (virtually) interviewed members of the cast. My mind is still reeling from the powerful messaging and emotional rollercoaster. 

Based on the Matt Ruff novel of the same name and developed by Misha Green and executive produced alongside Jordan Peele, it is based in the Jim Crow era showcasing the harsh realities of racism then and, unfortunately, the recurrences of what is happening now. From George Floyd to Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, racism is not a relic of the past. Just as Childish Gambino let us know in 2018, “This is America,” as we mark the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it is still a modern-day reality for Black Americans. 

Growing up, my mother always shared stories with me about my grandfather. Although he passed away before I was born, I regularly felt connected to him, which is the beauty of storytelling. Like Atticus, the lead character played by Jonathan Majors, my grandfather was a Korean War veteran. I learned early on about the traumatic effects, racial injustices and inequalities, Black soldiers, experienced both during the war and afterward returning home to their families and civilian life. 

A six-foot Black man is not a threat. In fact, he can be a hero.

Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO
Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Seeing this actualized through a historical lens infused with sci-fi and fantasy further emphasized the role an artist has in society to shed light and continually bring truths to the forefront. 

“We’re in the midst of a lot of shit in America and our country. We are under two pandemics — racial injustice, inequality, systematic racism, and COVID-19. What I’ve said, and what I believe, is that we as artists are essential workers because it is essential that we work. Our job is to uphold the culture and continue to reveal the cancers within our culture in order to change it and educate each other. We are providing catharsis through our work, in order to purge the illness that is running rampant in the political body and in the social body that we all share,” Majors said.   

“With Lovecraft [Country], our protagonists are of African American descent, and that is a very novel thing, to be a part of a team, to be a part of a story that is holding up Black people fully. If we look at what’s happening today, Lovecraft [Country], parallels serve almost as a corrective in many ways. It’s like a six-foot Black man is not a threat. In fact, he can be a hero. He has a brain, a heart, and emotions. He has a spirit, a family, and a legacy that he’s moving forward,” the Dallas native further explained.

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Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO
Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

So how does one educate and prepare their children from the wounds of racism? When it comes to Courtney B. Vance and his 14-year-old twins with actress Angela Bassett, it’s all about having open discussions and dialogue in their household. 

“We live in an area that is mostly white and Asian. It is imperative that we have these discussions about the time period and where we’ve come from, so they understand the context. When my son was in fifth grade, he said, ‘Daddy, my friends and I, we don’t see color.’ I said, ‘Okay, but I bet the color sees you, and I know they see you as Black. They can afford not to see color, but baby, you got to see it because otherwise, you’re going to be slapped down and get your head shook, and your money took,'” the Emmy award-winning actor said. 

He continued, “Little third-grade white boys called Slater [my son] blackie boy, and it crushed him. We had to make sure we walked him through who you are and made sure we went up to the school and let them see this chocolate skin on a daily basis. Just because young people have issues at school, it doesn’t mean it’s a black thing. It’s a mutual thing. Children are trying to figure their way out and figure things out in the early grades.” 

I started finding myself going in an emotionally downward spiral, watching all of the things that are wrong, legislatively.

Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO
Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

In peeling back the layers, and taking references from green books and sundown towns, the series has emerged as a larger scale conversation in correlation to the social movements of 2020. The entire country is in pain, and each of us is engaging in activism in various ways. 

Michael K. Williams, who plays Montrose, told BlackLove.com, “I’ve been turning my TV off a little bit more lately, and I’ve been getting out into my community. I started finding myself going in an emotionally downward spiral, watching all of the things that are wrong, legislatively. This summer, I partnered with an organization in New York city called NYC Together to rebuild and repair the relationships between police, community, and youth. I see the youth trying, and that makes me want to push them harder and support them. I find that when I get around the youth, they give me hope, and I find inspiration in that.” 

Be sure to tune into Lovecraft Country Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on HBO.

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