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How Ozark Upheld White Power Preserving Two Byrde’s with One Stone

Skylar Gaertner as Jonah Byrde


BANG! With the firing of a single shotgun round from the hands of 17 year old white, male, Jonah Byrde ensures the white power structure CONTINUES! ??? The  playbook passed down from parents to child. A structure and system from inception rooted in upholding injustice, deception and violence as its modus operandi; a system of corruption at the highest governmental and social organizational levels. Ozark made one thing unequivocally clear, whiteness wins in the end. This power structure will continue to operate at the expense, exploitation and collaboration particularly of non-white people, to their own detriment. People relegated to the margins of power, pursuing higher quality standards of living and allured by western materialism and opulence. Though their hands are far from clean, in Ozark, Mexicans and poor whites are fodder for the drug cartel operation. 

What is understood, is there are classes of white people, and folks like the Langmores and Snells are considered “white trash.” They are disposable if they cannot be utilized as tools for exploitation by the elite white minority. The Byrde’s, an upper middle class family from Chicago hit the ceiling of suburban affluence, leaving the matriarch who’s life began at the lower rungs of whiteness with an insatiable appetite for power. The rest of us, us being the Black and Brown global majority population are depicted as mere pawns on a chessboard for the “Wendy Byrd’s” of the world and western governments such as the United State of America. 

Ozark season 2, episode 10 finale recap: 'The Gold Coast'
Sophia Hublitz as Charlotte Byrde, Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde, Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde and Skylar Gaertner as Jonah Byrde

Wendy is an archetype for the white Queen on the global chessboard/plantation, a planter aspiring power and influence in politics, thereby expanding her reach from local and state to national and international. Repeatedly her character is prepared to destroy anyone, including sacrificing her own “King” Marty Byrde and her two children should they not comply with her zero sum objectives. Marty is a “liberal” enabler, unwilling to neutralize his wife because they are in this to the end, together. His blood soaked hands are often overshadowed by his wife’s. Wendy is a polished, persuasive liar, a masterful manipulator, a stoic executor of strategy, a thorny rose and weeping “victim” who at her core is a ruthless mercenary whenever the situations requires. She is heartless, not human and juxtaposed makes Marty appear like a blameless latch key husband. Wendy lacks the quintessence of personhood, the fundamental characteristics making human beings, humane. She is what the Bantu call “Bubi,” meaning evil and  “kintu” which is someone who does not deserve respect, because they are absent of morality and full of stupidity. I imagine she represents the epitome of what Dr. Bobby E. Wright termed the “psychopathic racial personality.” This show could be a great fictional case study for analysis through the lens of based on Dr. Wright’s work.  

Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde

Notably, every attempt towards justice in Ozark was thwarted. The conscience of the show, the Black woman, a film trope Hollywood consistently gets right, FBI agent Maya Miller is diametrically opposite of Wendy Byrde. She represents the Black Queen on the chessboard. She’s honest, fair, just and above all humane. Poor Sista, she wants to fix the system from within, a rationale with terminal consequences. Her Achilles heel, projecting her African indigenous morality onto the Byrdes and the complicit U.S. government. Her inexcusable naivety of the enemy institution for which she works, led to serious miscalculations that endangered her life and her unborn child. 

Just because a person is born does not make them human. A Bantu Luba philosophy for humanity and what it means to be human worth learning and embracing for a humane global society. 

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Jessica Frances Duke as Special Agent Maya Miller

Because Maya projected her humanity onto a people and institution paradoxical to her own conscience, good will and desire to uphold righteousness, it was used against her as a weakness. She was outwitted by the devil and it nearly costed her life and her child.

Ozark demonstrated no matter how earnest one’s efforts may be to establish justice, uphold truth and righteousness it only leads to being white balled or killed; but it didn’t have to end that way for Ruth, nor the coked up detective who got the last BANG! Certainly as a writer I don’t always seek, nor appreciate “happy endings” when it’s trite or unrealistic. However, if not life imitating art, nor art imitating life, could art imitate truth? Could Ozark have attempted to balance the scale in favor of justice, if for no other reason, lies and injustice inevitably fall under their own construction. Of course the ominous plot lines of Ozark could not end on a happy note, but they could have at least killed two Byrdes with one stone, either metaphorically or literally. Marty and especially Wendy needed to fall, if but on their own swords.

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Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore

This show was layered in western imperialism from the federal level to the Byrde’s grassroots titty bar operation. Unflinchingly Ozark maintained classist ideology and vindication of white treachery. There were undertones of punitive attitudes towards “doing the right thing,” as if it were childish thinking, Utopian or altruistic or far right christian evangelicalism. This show left me feeling dejected from TV programming, and ready to divest from the intricately written, well acted, character driven performances that once garnered my attention. Ozark, was poisonous icing on the cake of my TV indulgence from HBO’s Westworld to Succession, shows with infectious storylines, but if closely examined display everything that is warped, depraved and sickening in western culture, philosophy and futurism. Yep and if we dissected those to shows Ozark may look like the Wizard of Oz.  

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Tom Pelphrey as Ben Davis

I felt a deep desire to return to the black whole of creativity, to rewatch Watchmen and Lovecraft Country, stories that were snatched from renewal without good reason other than to maintain the white power structure’s allure, illusions and desensitization for abuse and violence. Ozark left me feeling suckered by the Black Mirror yet inspired to focus on stories from my imagination soon to be revealed… 

When I think how much of my time, mind, and innerChi was consumed watching and discussing episodes of Ozark, in retrospect I could’ve done without it and better invested my time. I’d like to think some value was added in critically discussing Ozark with deep thinking friends but then I consider…

Certainly we all consumed more TV during the pandemic. However, Black people in America spent more time than any other group consuming media which is consistent behavior from pre-pandemic levels. Subsequently, we are disproportionally over represented in disparities across every sector in society from healthcare, education, incarceration, wealth etc. Asians spend half the time we do consuming media and categorically often fair better across every sector in society aforementioned. Perhaps media is sucking our brain power and lulling us to sleep, to our own detriment.

10 hours media / day in one year = 3,650 hours year consuming

note: 8,766 hours/ year

50 years x 365 days 3,650 hours = 182,500 Hours or 20.8 YEARS OF YOUR LIFE CONSUMING MEDIA! 

Therefore I’ve decided,

“I’m reclaiming my time.”

– Maxine Waters

Source: “Bumuntu” “Encyclopedia of African Religion” Asante, Molefi Kete; Mazama, Ama. 2009.

“The Nielsen Total Audience Report. Special Work From Home Edition” August 2020

Akachineke Azubuike

Akachineke Azubuike

Founder & Chief Editor: Blafrokan |
African Vanguard |African Ambassador | PhotograpHer & Creative: A Z A L I P I C T U R E S

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