‘The Prophets’ Explores Black Love and Reminiscence in a Time of Trauma
What’s so adored at first, after which corroded within the eyes of the others by Amos, is Isaiah and Samuel’s selection to like, their consent, their selecting and selecting and selecting of one another, a selection exterior of pressure or order, in a nature we (we!) have lengthy forgotten.
One of many blessings of “The Prophets” is its lengthy reminiscence. Jones makes use of the voices from the prologue to talk throughout time, to character and reader alike. These brief, lyric-driven chapters struck me as instructive and redemptive makes an attempt at therapeutic historic wounds, tracing a map again to the potential for our native, queer, warrior Black selves. These voices are Black collective data given form, the oral custom talking in your face and setting you proper.
One other method this blessing takes form is thru a subplot centering on Kosii and Elewa, two homosexual (I’m utilizing our phrase, my trying to identify this outdated factor for us) lovers who precede Isaiah and Samuel. We meet Kosii and Elewa by way of flashback scenes, on their marriage ceremony day, on the eve of their village’s invasion by Dutch enslavers. From their marriage ceremony to captivity on the stinking haul of a ship en path to America, Kosii and Elewa’s love, torture and eventual revolt act as a direct echo of Isaiah and Samuel, lovers beloved by their individuals, interrupted by the wickedness of whiteness.
By means of these characters and their tales, “The Prophets” calls, throughout time, on queer warriors, lady kings, root girls and boys in love to color a protracted queer Black historical past, a historical past of rising towards, of ever making one’s method again to freedom.
Is Jones pointing to the present second we discover ourselves residing in? Black individuals, as soon as once more, identical as at all times, dying and preventing the murderous avatars of white greed for one more piece of freedom. After one other summer time within the streets preventing for our collective life — at marches typically led by Black girls and Black queers whom whiteness and its God have taught us to hate so nicely — I arrived at this e-book each gracefully and loudly saying, “Bear in mind who you could have lengthy been.” Jones appears to be reaching throughout centuries of blood and reminiscence in an try to shake awake a warrior armed with weapon and wit that lies sleeping in his imagined, beloved, Black reader.
All of it — the seven voices, the midnight blue lovers, the warrior girls, the shadows fats with ancestors — pressed upon my Black coronary heart asking me to recollect earlier than the boats, to not flip from the horror of the fields and see what has at all times been most lovely and unkillable in us — our methods, our combat, our magic, our love. “The Prophets” makes an attempt to provide its Black characters and Black viewers the identical items — our proper names, our Black understanding, a freedom exterior of time and circumstance.
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