‘Pose’ Episode 3: The Ethos of Survival


For those of us who live at the shoreline

standing upon the constant edges of decision

crucial and alone

for those of us who cannot indulge

the passing dreams of choice


The opening lines from Audrey Lorde’s “A Litany for Survival” immediately came to mind when thinking of the ways that queer black womxn are constantly in survival mode. A sometimes unspoken but understood barrier of existence that does not offer you the chance to make mistakes, be vulnerable or be in the wrong place at the wrong time because it will literally cost you your freedom or life. A target for constant violence and guilt by existing. I understand Elektra’s position to not run to the police, because like she said “for girls like us, the system is never on our side.” The police, then and now, have made it clear that juxtaposed to whiteness, if you have an identity that is decentered you will always be the first to be blamed and ignored. We have seen this through cases such as the Central Park Five, Sudan, police brutality and the number of murders against trans folx of color. A reminder that the more disenfranchised identities you have, the harder the system is working against you to lock you out of institutions that are supposedly set up to protect and educate you.

This is one of the very few times that Elektra has been a true mother to Blanca in the sense that black motherhood is often about shielding your child from as much bad shit as you possibly can. It also reflects the way in which children later care for their mothers as Blanca has a real conversation with Elektra about her mental state. Having an open and honest conversation about the impact that the situation has had, and not allowing Elektra to carry around the burden of being the strong black womxn. Though their relationship is often times toxic and shaky, for me it shows that Elektra’s mothering techniques are rooted in trauma, abandonment and the want to be in control of something because she often does not have control due to her identities. This episode also highlights the bond within community. Although they may throw shade, pull table cloths and just be petty it is an understanding that the police are not friends and they have to protect not only themselves but each other. When I think of how everyone interacts with one another on a daily basis it is clear to see that everyone is hurting and working to fight their personal battles, but when it’s time to come together they do, adding to their existing pain. Which leads me to wonder: how can one heal in the face of constant adversity? How does one heal from making choices that will haunt them for the rest of their lives? 

Though a lot of fucked up shit happened in this episode, it seems that we can always count on Angel to bring us a glimmer of hope and Papi to remind us that romance is real.

“I am a prize too, and I need you to know that,” I felt that in my bones Papi. The level of vulnerability and care that Papi provides to Angel is so beautiful to me. The love that he has for her is selfless yet rooted in him knowing his worth and I just adore that about him. Angel, like many folks who grow up in poverty—and as black womxn—feel a sense of hopelessness and lack of equitable opportunity. Angel had to make a difficult decision when it came to fulfilling her dreams or Papi, and she chose her dreams which in a way was her own selfless act of choosing her community. Representation matters, doing something that you never thought you could do because the odds were/are against you matters, so I do not fault her for making that decision. I fault society for perpetuating this narrative that if you do not take this one opportunity then nothing else will come for you particularly if you are not a cisgender white person. This idea that you are disposable and that you should be grateful for whatever it is that we are providing you is just another form of exploitation and manipulation. I am eager to see how Angel manages what will come next for her, and I really want to see her and Papi work it out. I want her to pick her community, her career, herself (and her boo if she wants to) because she can for sure have it all!

Cover photo: HipLatina

Read the Pose season 2 episode 2 review here.

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