Sweet sugar daddy

His fa­ther’s gift helps Ralph An­gel fight back against lim­it­ing ideas of who he is.

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Queen Sugar Sea­son 2 Tues­days (from 29 Au­gust) Vuzu AMP (*103) 20:00

Un­known to Queen Sugar’s (2016- cur­rent) Borde­lon sis­ters Nova (Rutina Wes­ley) and Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gard­ner), their younger brother Ralph An­gel (Kofi Siri­boe) holds the fu­ture of their fam­ily’s strug­gling 800acre sugar- cane farm in his hands, in the form of the re­vised will from his fa­ther Ernest (Glynn Tur­man) that he found in the sea­son 1 fi­nale in De­cem­ber 2016. It leaves Ralph An­gel the sole in­her­i­tor of the land as sea­son 2 starts on Tues­day 29 Au­gust. This wasn’t a fa­ther’s ges­ture to spite the Borde­lon women, but a vi­tal of­fer of sup­port to his prodi­gal son.

LE­GACY OF LOVE

Ralph An­gel could twirl his mous­tache, laugh de­mon­i­cally and boot his sis­ters off the farm. But Queen Sugar is not that show and Ralph An­gel never was that man, de­spite the fact that he once checked all the boxes on pop­u­lar cul­ture’s “bad black man” sheet: the prisoner, the small-time crim­i­nal, drug ad­dict and the dead­beat dad. “The world has this vivid im­age of who Ralph An­gel is and that trans­ferred over to his fam­ily. A lot of his brief in sea­son 1 was try­ing to prove to his fam­ily that he wasn’t his past,” says Kofi. “In sea­son 2 I feel that the trans­for­ma­tion is that it’s not about prov­ing to any­body who he isn’t, but it’s for him com­ing to terms with who he is and ac­tu­ally iden­ti­fy­ing that. That search for iden­tity be­comes this slow trans­for­ma­tion. I don’t think he’s aware of it.” The words of his fa­ther’s let­ter will be hugely sig­nif­i­cant as Ralph An­gel strives to find his true self: “You, Ralph An­gel, are more than you know. You and your sis­ters are the moon and the sky and the stars to me, each of you. But this land is yours. What­ever has hap­pened, what­ever you’ve done in the past, never for­get that. You are bet­ter than you think. You’re smarter than you think. You are stronger than you think. Take this land. Build a home here. Build a fam­ily for you and Blue here. Build our cane here, stalk by stalk. Build a good life here, Ralph An­gel, so when you get to the end, you can look back and be proud of your days on this Earth.”

THE BET­TER ANGELS

Ralph An­gel has two goals this sea­son: to love his son Blue (Ethan Hutchi­son) with ev­ery beat of his heart, and to cher­ish the land his fa­ther gave him. He’s al­ready mak­ing progress but his strug­gle is clear be­tween episodes 1 and 2 (on Tues­day 5 Septem­ber). In episode 1, he is vi­o­lently un­sym­pa­thetic at first when his “soft”, sen­si­tive nephew Micah (Ni­cholas L Ashe) is ar­rested in a racial pro­fil­ing in­ci­dent. But Ralph An­gel later sits down to dis­cuss the roots of his ag­gres­sion with Micah. And in Ralph An­gel’s open, ex­pres­sive and gen­tly lov­ing re­la­tion­ship with his beloved son there’s clearly hope for the fu­ture.

WHAT MAKES A MAN

In episode 2, view­ers will see Ralph An­gel rise to Blue’s de­fence when a busy­body waiter sug­gests that Blue play with a Trans­former (in­stead of his doll) be­cause “those are re­ally cool”. While this makes Blue sad in a sim­ple child­ish way, it in­fu­ri­ates Ralph An­gel who sees the grown up mes­sage that play­ing with a doll is not cool specif­i­cally for boys. Ralph An­gel sup­ports Blue’s choice by point­edly or­der­ing two ice creams – one for Blue and one for his doll. And that waiter had bet­ter not be ex­pect­ing a tip. If no­body is go­ing to tell Ralph An­gel’s son to deny the things he loves just so he can fit into some lim­ited and lim­it­ing def­i­ni­tion of man­hood, per­haps Ralph An­gel can break out of that box too!

Ralph An­gel, his son Blue and Blue’s mom Darla (Bianca Law­son).

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