Miss Juneteenth (2019) is directed and written by the talented Channing Godfrey Peoples. The movie is a perfect depiction of the pressure and heredity of beauty and poverty in black american communities. The movie was selected by the Sundance Film Festival this year and this spotlight is totally deserved. Here’s an article about Miss Juneteenth, its symbols and significations.
A LITTLE RESUME
In this little city in Texas, Turquoise Jones (played by Nicole Beharie) is a young mother in her 30’s. She’s raising her 15 years old daughter, named Kai (played by Alexis Chikaeze). The woman and the girl have a weird bond. They are close but we can feel a little tension. At the dawn of the celebration of Juneteenth, the day that marked the liberation of African American slaves, Turquoise is excited. She was Miss Juneteenth herself in 2004. For her, her daughter has to participate. But Turquoise is simply very poor. She accumulates two low wages jobs and hasn’t finished college. And to sprinkle the story, Turquoise is dealing with the father of her daughter, Ronnie (Kendrick Sampson), who is an acknowledge drug dealer. He doesn’t do anything interesting with his life, he is just around. Turquoise is honestly a poor « single » black mother. The arrival and the celebration of Juneteenth is maybe one of her mental liberations. But who says celebrations and competitions says money.
MISS JUNETEENTH OR THE BURDEN OF BEAUTY STANDARDS AND POVERTY
The elaboration of the Miss Juneteenth contest sacralizes the epitome of european beauty and its sufferings. For Turquoise, this year’s contest is almost vital. Her daughter has now the possibility to be someone, someone to make her shine and continue the legacy. Yes, Miss Juneteenth is about legacy. In this area, Miss Juneteenth is seen as door to escape a destiny and future of poverty for young black women. Being a miss is being someone of importance for your entire life. Plus, the winner of Miss Juneteenth will have the honor of winning a scholarship. Miss Juneteenth is a yearly concentration of stress, beauty climax and superficial purchases. It’s cultural and highly respected. Therefore, Turquoise and her daughter require none of these expectations. And Kai is the alter ego of her mother. She is vivid, extravagant and smart. She is young. The importance of Miss Juneteenth to Turquoise symbolizes the reminiscence of her reign. And here appears the main highlights of the movie.
The single mother, Turquoise, has never achieved anything greater than being Miss Juneteenth. She is expecting her daughter to win and elevate her social status. A chance that Turquoise never had. Turquoise‘s mother was an alcoholic for many years of her life, and she had found in Miss Juneteenth an escape. The movie delivers a harsh but needed message : we can not defeat or overcome poverty with beauty. We can not overcome loneliness with a beauty contest. The saddest moment of the movie is when Kai presents herself to the contest repetition without her fairly dress. Neither Turquoise nor her absent husband were capable of buying their daughter a decent dress. This scene is the perfect depiction of what vanity and impoverishment look like. Turquoise was placing her best hopes in her daughter. Hopes that will never see the lights. The contest would made Turquoise realize that she has to shake up her life, to not let her daughter reproduce her same misfortunes. By misfortunes, we are talking about alcoholism, poverty and abandon. At the end, Kai will not win the contest but at least she stayed true to herself physically and mentally. And at the same time, Turquoise has understood her life mistakes and failures. It was such a relief to see her upgrade herself, sell her wedding ring and buy her boss’s bar. This ultimate failure was the electric shock that Turquoise needed.
Miss Juneteenth is an inspiring movie. It combines life harshness and joy. The movie is simple, there are no tricks. From misery to joyfulness, all of life’s emotions are assembled. And the best thing about the movie is clearly the naturalness. The movie is showing us that it’s possible for us black women to overthrow the faith and charges we inherit from birth. Miss Juneteenth is a livid piece of women empowerment and liberation. As I have already said in my Harley Quinn article, the first step to self love and self confidence is sometimes to be alone.
Follow me on Instagram : @pointzeroworld – POINT ZERO WORLD.