Black America, we turned out in record-breaking numbers last weekend to see and support the most anticipated film of the year, Black Panther. It was a triumph as epic as the film itself. But Panther isn’t the only black-helmed film being released by Disney this winter; we are now only two weeks away from the release of A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay.
Featuring Oprah, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine and starring newcomer Storm Reid as young heroine Meg Murry, A Wrinkle in Time is certain to serve up its own brand of black girl movie magic on March 9. And along with all of you avid filmgoers, we especially think our girls should be there to see it.
Enter the “A Wrinkle in Time Challenge” (#AWITChallenge): an initiative to buy out eight theaters in cities around the country—Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Greensboro, N.C.; Houston; Philadelphia; Plainfield, N.J.; and Washington, D.C.—for black girls (and nonboys) to see the film on opening weekend.
Coordinated by the online group Sisters in the Storm, “a collective of black women focused on community engagement and Sisterhood among black women & non-men,” a GoFundMe page has been created with the aim of raising $25,000, reaching nearly half their goal in the past 10 days, with just under a week left to go. But behind their valiant mission is a heartbreaking story, as co-founder Sherronda J. Brown explains in an essay at Medium:
In late January, a black girl named Stormiyah Denson-Jackson passed away in an apparent suicide at the public boarding school she attended. She was twelve years old and already madly in love with math and science—a #RealMeg. But this love she had made her the target of bullying and verbal abuse from her classmates. Devastated by their taunts, she chose to end her life rather than live with the shame they tried to make her feel for being a “nerd” who enjoyed engaging with sciences and mathematics.
There is a narrow image of blackness in the social imagination, mired with stereotypes and white ascendant ideals about black intellect, capability, and mobility. For black women and girls, beliefs, about our blackness—how it is allowed to look, what it is allowed to achieve—can never be divorced from beliefs about our gender. There is a social stigma about challenging these expectations and permissions, and it constantly impacts our experiences in the world, but never more significantly than when we are growing up, learning who we are, and deciding who we want to become.
Like the momentum that grew around the #BlackPantherChallenge, raising over $620,000 from all 50 states to make it possible for black children to see themselves reflected on film, Sisters of the Storm’s act of love and generosity is inspiring others to do the same for the #AWITChallenge. For instance, writer and Lemonade Syllabus creator Candice Benbow has set her own goal to make A Wrinkle in Time accessible to 200 girls in Hamilton, N.J. As she told The Glow Up, it’s a gift she hopes to make in memory of her mother:
I wanted to ensure that we do our part to support Ava and this film just like we supported Ryan Coogler and Black Panther. But also, my mom took me to the library every Friday, and would take me to the movies whenever something came out for kids. This movie and the moment around it reminds me of my childhood and time with my mother. I wanted to honor that by participating in this challenge so black girls today can look back on similar memories and smile. What Ava has done with this film made history, and black girls need to see that there is no dream too big for them.
We have seen firsthand the impact that seeing black superheroes on film can have on our children—and ourselves. With A Wrinkle in Time, we also have yet another opportunity—and plenty of incentive—to show Hollywood that blockbusters star black people, too.
But for real-life Meg Murrys, or Shuris, or other struggling Stormiyah Denson-Jacksons, A Wrinkle in Time may also provide exactly the affirmation and inspiration they need to flourish as their brilliant, STEM-loving, “black girl nerd” selves. As Brown wrote: “Seeing ourselves represented as heroes has undeniable power, and feeling our absence in these roles also influences the way that we see ourselves and our blackness.”
Let’s do it again, y’all.
The Glow Up tip: A Wrinkle in Time opens in theaters on Friday, March 9. You can support Sisters in the Storm’s $25,000 #AWITChallenge via its GoFundMe page until March 1. You can also spend $20 to sponsor a black girl to see the film in Hamilton, N.J., via Candice Benbow’s website. Or begin your own challenge locally. Let’s make this happen!