Sankofa's first episode is finally here, and it was definitely worth the wait.
Finally, our pining is over: "The History of Minstrelsy," the first episode of Sankofa 2021, is here. Directed, written and narrated by junior Ingrid Ellis, the episode takes a piercing look at blackface and its legacy in today's entertainment industry. Seniors Kasey Thorpe and Charles Thrush weave the narration, poetry, music, and visuals together with outstanding editing that makes the episode soar. The poetry and music from senior Amina King, junior Samar Haddad, senior Abonie Blount and senior Che Moorhead elevates the episode from history to searing, soulful art.
In line with this year's theme of Black experiences in television and film, "The History of Minstrelsy," is less about the White people in blackface, instead shining a spotlight on the resilience of Black entertainers who had to endure the humiliation of stereotypes and caricatures and how they took advantage of these stereotypes to jumpstart their careers.
Although the MCPS curriculum skims over minstrelsy, it is imperative that White students understand that blackface is another way that America has tried to control Black bodies—this time to entertain White audiences. Sankofa is picking up the slack the MCPS leaves in its lessons on American history.
The episode is far more than just history; it overflows with emotion, oscillating from hope to melancholy and back again. King's performance of "The Hill We Climb" by inaugural poet Amanda Gorman urges Americans to strive for a better future. This contrasts sharply with Haddad's performance of the aptly-named poem "Weep" by George Moses Horton, full of grief over America's bitter divisions. Blount's haunting performance of "On a Sunday," by Quincy Troupe feels intimate, pulling you in with a murmur rather than a shout, and Moorhead's rendition of "Change is Gonna Come," by Sam Cooke, is, in one word, stunning.
The Sankofa crew is just heating up, and it's looking to be a show to remember for a long time to come.
Episode Two is out now. Go check it out after you watch the first one.
Myles Feingold-Black. Hey! I'm Myles, and I'm a junior staff writer here at SCO. If I'm not writing a story, you can probably find me winding through Takoma Park either on a bike or in my running shoes. More »