“The Wiz Live”: 40 Years Later it is Still Needed

the wiz

Last night, NBC premiered “The Wiz Live” on television. An adaptation of the original film, “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Wiz” was a film and Broadway play that featured an all black cast. 40 Years later and I have the exact same love for “The Wiz,” but now that I am older, my appreciation for the back story and lessons have grown. When I was younger, I just loved singing and dancing along to Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, but this time I was overwhelmed with emotion as the characters were coming into their true selves.

So, quick Cliff notes on “The Wiz,” Dorothy’s house is picked up in a tornado and lands in OZ on the Wicked Witch of the East. Her sister, the Good Witch of the North, is happy and tells Dorothy to find the Wizard of Oz to try to get back home. On her journey, she encounters a scarecrow, who wants a brain, a tin man, who wants a heart, and a lion, who wants courage. They all decide to go with Dorothy to ask the Wizard for what they want. When they get to the Wizard, he(she) tells them that they have to kill the Wicked Witch of the West first. They go and do that and come back to find the Wizard isn’t as mighty as they think, but just a regular person. The Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy to ask her sister, The Good With of the South, to get home. And she clicks her heels and is back home. The end.

The Wiz Live! - Season 2015

THE WIZ LIVE! — Season: 2015 — Pictured: (l-r) Amber Riley as Addapearle, Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Mary J. Blige as Evillene — (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

So how is that inspirational? How did that musical about a bunch of witches, who are all related, and some weird characters have me bursting with pride? Because of the representation. This ALL BLACK CAST…let that sink in. ALL BLACK CAST! And talented, at that. They had me looking at my television in awe and pride. All shapes, sizes, and tones were showcased and highlighted. Natural hair was on front street! (I know yall saw the lion with his locs). It showed me that my people are absolutely beautiful, talented, wonderful, exuberant, joyful. We are so many things and it is simply amazing. It showed me the great side of being Black in such a world that continuously shows the negative. After day in and day out of seeing our people being killed and treated like dirt, it was a breath of fresh air to see this amazing show. The colors, the music, the dancing, the COSTUMES…it was all just beautifully refreshing.

the-wiz-heroWith each scene and character, there were small hidden lessons behind them. Dorothy, who I like to see as a vigilante, has been whisked away from home and feels like she is lost. Her whole journey is to get back home because that is all she knows. She doesn’t realize that, while she is on this journey to get back home, she is doing amazing things. She is empowering others, freeing people, and sticking up for herself. She doesn’t realize that she had the ability to go home all this time because she didn’t need to go back there yet. She needed to go through that journey, in order, to learn more about herself and help those she did. How many of us have never tried anything new because we are trying to stay in our comfort zone? Too scared to leave “home” because it’s the only thing we know?

scareThe Scarecrow feels that he is dumb because that is all everyone tells him. He thinks that he is nothing because he doesn’t know anything. In the end, the Wizard tells him that he does have a brain and the fact that he knows nothing means he knows a lot. This message hit me as an adult because so many of our people are told this. We grow up thinking we are less than what we are, so we believe it. We don’t think otherwise because why would we? If someone keeps telling you the same thing, over and over, you start to think it is true. Then, you start to rationalize it. The fact that the Scarecrow thinks he has no brains because he knows nothing is him trying to assure himself that everyone is right. This happens so much in our community and it often takes just one person showing the other that they are worthy for them to understand.

tinThe Tinman, my favorite, wants a heart. He had a heart before he was turned into tin and wants to love again. Going through his journey, the Tinman doesn’t realize that he has had the ability to love all along. He continuously showed care towards Dorothy on their journey and made sure no harm came to her. In this situation, I feel like the Tinman is a lot of Black people. We are often taught to be hard and grow up tough. You may have loved once, but when you have been turned on, you become hard and never let that emotion come again. But, it is shown still in things that we do. Taking care of our children, being with friends, small daily activities that we probably overlook, but we still are showing love in some way. We may not see it as such, but it is still happening. So much pain has happened in the Black community and even though we SHOULD be hard with metal exteriors, we still show way to express love.

The Wiz Live! - Season 2015

THE WIZ LIVE! — Season: 2015 — Pictured: David Alan Grier as Lion — (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

The Lion wants courage because well, he’s a lion. He feels like he should be this big, mean, daunting creature and he is the opposite. He doesn’t realize that he actually has courage but it is shown differently. This is powerful because we all have our own way of displaying things. We do not have to be the exact same. You don’t have to yell from the mountains that you are strong. You show it in ways that YOU want to.


“The Wiz” shows that Black people are more than what you think. We are a complex being. We are so much more than what is shown to the eye. Multi layered. “The Wiz Live” discussed gender roles(The Wizard was thought to be a man and was really a woman…WHO RUN THIS MUTHA?), had gay elements(Emerald City was LIT!), and also encouraged our people through chaos(Can You Feel A Brand New Day?) This is where the pride came in. In the end, this song is sung and everyone is in yellow and it is visually stimulating. You can’t help but to smile. Like I said, we are complex. We are a lot of things, but in it all we still see the light at the end of the tunnel. You can tear us down, you can try to defeat our spirit, but it is, and always will be, still there. That hope is the backbone of being Black. Nothing will kill our hope for a better day.



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Where Do We Go From Here?

isThis case is one of those cases that will forever be remembered. It’s like our generation’s “Rodney King”. George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. A young black teenager who was simply walking to the store, buying snacks in a hoodie. After the advice of the police, Zimmerman decided to take the law into his own hands and approach Martin. And we know how it ends. This verdict has me feeling numb, especially as a parent. What do I say to my two young black boys? How do I prevent this from happening to them? I was raised to believe that everyone is equal and should be treated as such. You do your best in life and God will reward you. But somehow as I get older, I see that this is starting to change. You can’t just be educated and Black in America and expect to be treated as an equal. This has been proven over and over again.

After the verdict was given, I saw a lot of posts saying that it is in God’s hands and there was nothing we could do. I could not believe that people were actually saying this. And then I saw this post


If that wasn’t the truth right there. From the beginning of time, Blacks have always been told to take the higher road and trust in God for all these things. Now, yes. I believe that God has the final say and my faith in him is as strong as ever, but I do also believe strongly in the verse, “Faith without works is dead.” I believe that God’s reason for prayer is for you to seek him and hear what action he wants you to do to solve your problem. No problem gets solved with you just sitting there. This is something people seem to not remember. Yes, you pray to God, but in that praying you should be seeking His answer. Once you hear it, you act. Sometimes God will tell you to just sit and wait, and other times he will give you instructions on how to make that situation better. Being complacent is what has society in this same situation time and time again. God sends us signals and if we keep ignoring them they are just going to get bigger and bigger. I hear a lot of people complaining that this much attention isn’t given to black on black crimes, but I would say to those people that this is probably a way for God to show those who didn’t pay attention to now see all the violence as a whole. People will begin to rally behind this case and in retrospect their efforts will trickle down and help these other crimes that go ignored.

I, personally, get upset when any type of crime is committed against an innocent person. The Casey Anthony trial had me up in arms. Wrongful killings of my classmates by police and other black men had me up in arms. But this case just made me doubtful. It made me doubt the judicial system. It made me doubt anyone who says that we are all equal. It made me doubt my decision to bring children into this world. Hell, it even made me doubt myself as a mother. But one thing it did do was awaken me. It opened my eyes to see the bigger picture. It opened my eyes to see that I was being complacent in my life. Depending on just my prayers to get me and my boys where we needed to be. Not truly taking any action to get myself closer to that goal. This case showed me that more work needs to be done and I have to put my time in as well. I owe it to my sons to be apart of this fight. So when they are older they can have a future to look to.

Our ancestors fought too hard for us to just let this slip through our fingertips. This is no different then the times that our grandparents lived in, except now there are trials but the outcome is always the same. We have to learn to stop being so complacent and actually stand up for something. Someone said yesterday that ‘what was the point of others respecting us when we don’t respect ourselves?’ This really made me think. With all the reality shows and twerking videos and World Star videos, why would they look at us as equals? Yes, we are not the only ones in these videos, but we are the majority when it comes to them. Instead of another race seeing us as intellectual beings and on the same playing field, they see women fighting over a sorry man, or chicks having a twerk off. Who would respect that? It’s too the point where I am starting to not respect half of the Black community because we sit back and allow this stupidity to continue. We want respect but we continue to degrade ourselves, continue to kill one another. Why would they respect us?

Yes this case is upsetting and no the verdict did not come as a shock and with saying that, that is the problem there. The fact that no one is surprised that Zimmerman, a white man, was allowed to go against police orders and stalk, attack, and kill Trayvon Martin, a black teen, and is able to go home free is very sad and it shows how complacent we have become with these types of situation. We can argue and curse and black out pictures and talk shit on Facebook and Twitter all day, but when it comes down to it, what are you really going to do? I know what my actions will be, but what are yours? Where do you go from here?

You can start in the fight to prevent this from happening to another innocent person by joining the Trayvon Martin Foundation, www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org. They will keep you abreast on peaceful rallys and ways that you can help to get certain laws, like “Stand Your Ground,” out of the system. My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin for their loss. Their son’s death will not be in vain, in my eyes. Hoodies up, eyes open. R.I.P. Trayvon.