Netflix's Project Power: Black People are the power
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
When we are empowered in cinema in triumph, I will always celebrate.
When I sat down to watch Project Power, I was mostly interested in supporting my boyfriend’s family friend, Dominique Fishback, who was one of the stars. From the trailer, I expected a jampacked, and super-powered adventure but I got so much more than that. What I did not expect were the themes of power and pride for Blackness that were clear and unapologetic throughout. I admit that, given all the mass trauma surrounding race and state-sanctioned murder and the revolutionary response to it, I am constantly claiming and affirming my power, humanity, and right to live, love, and fight in my everyday life as a Black woman. So yes, if I see a predominantly Black cast in a movie called Project Power and I am seeing Black people be powerful, I am claiming Black Power and basking in it. For me, this movie was nothing less than a personification of Black power, how it manifests, and how futile it is to try to steal (read: colonize) it.
Black women are innately powerful. We know this. We knew this. In Project Power we see it in Art’s daughter, Tracy, to heal and Dominique Fishback’s character, Robin, who doesn’t use any of the mass-produced power drug to do the powerful and heroic acts she did. I loved seeing two Black women utilizing different types of power. Like Tracy, we are powerful spiritually and ancestrally. The gifts that we have as Black women is deeply rooted in history and our experience to thrive and survive. And like Robin, just being and seeking ourselves is an act power!
But of course, in life, I am reminded that it is a little more complicated than that… Our power becomes token or slogan for the Black women’s lot in life: “She is powerful! She has to be powerful, look how she perseveres against the odds! We love you Black women!” This sentiment, often blasted on social media, is now falling flat, given the rate at which we’ve been killed protecting our children, sleeping, driving, living. Our power is not simply a response to white supremacy and colonialism. We are innately powerful. Period. And that power can manifest as joy, rage, action, inaction, rest, sexiness, or otherwise. It is nice to see our power explored in action and connected to nature as it was in Project Power.
I was so pissed but not surprised when I saw the white woman as the mastermind behind the project to steal Art’s Daughter’s gift and mass produce it for the masses. I won’t spoil that rage for you, you can see that scene for yourself. And again, maybe my lens is shaded by the tone of times, but I see another example of how our power, resources, and essence are often sought after ravenously without remorse. Africa’s natural resources, our culture, the way we talk, dress, how we cook, how we look are all seemingly up for grabs to be mass produced for the rest. However, we all know this effort will always fall short of the real thing. No one wins in colonialism. We all lose, whether they think so or not. But in Project Power, we see clearly what losing could look like for colonizers and it is soooooooo satisfying!
I will allow myself this interpretation of Project Power because it’s very possible with the ongoing call for racial justice on the macro and micro level that I simply needed to see Black women be great, Black men embrace their power, and white supremacy turn to ash. In my defense, the themes throughout, as they pertain to Blackness and our constant fight against bias and harmful systems was strong. As the credits rolled, I felt empowered. Especially considering Domonique Fishback, who from what my boyfriend has told me, has never not used her power. and Chika who contributed to the music that really brought the message home. It might not be the message you needed, but it certainly was the message I got.