Courtesy of Slutty Vegan, I saw Queen & Slim opening night, and I have thought about it everyday since. Leana Waithe and Melina Matsoukas gave us relatable Imagery that looks like different types of black women coexisting in the world without judgment and conflict with one another. It also showed many sides of black men, which was loving, colorful and problematic. They were caring and disappointing/disappointed. They were men. We got to see them and ourselves in all the ways in which we show up.
We got to see Slim, a black man be vulnerable without it being toxic when he tells Queen, “I just want to go home.” His voice broke, he was honest, but he wasn’t frail. We also got to see a black man respect a black woman and be patient with her. Slim wasn’t threatened by Queen’s leadership. It didn’t make him less of a man. We got to see the healthy side of masculinity. In turn, they began to respect one another’s leadership and decision-making.
We also got to see Queen’s uncle, another black man, with PTSD, who happened to have accidentally kill her mother, show his vulnerability through toxic masculinity. I didn’t mistake his abuse towards women as love, but we still needed to see it.
Too often, black women hold black men’s secrets while being under the hand of their rage. In this film, black women were the fixers in the lives of men who caused their tragedies. A black woman’s pain is swept up under the rug because we want to shield black men from the abuse of the world. We needed to see that outside of some gangster movie or pimp movie. We needed to see it how it shows up in the world in our everyday, regular lives, not to glorify it, but to understand it, so that we no longer keep it a secret, for the sake of trying to keep black men on a pedestal.
Struggle, trauma and tragedy runs deep in this film, but I’d like to think that Queen & Slim had traumas before they met that night and if they were looking for a love story happy ending, then they wouldn’t have been on Tinder.
I believe their bond grew through the desire to survive, not the trauma.
Queen & Slim wasn’t black love goals. It also wasn’t sugar coated in happiness in fear of what white folks might think of us. It was raw, tragic and a real experience. Queen & Slim gave us an alternative to dying at a traffic stop. They decided to live for as long as they could.