White Men and Power in Space is the Place

In Space is the Place, I noticed the idea of material/earthly desires versus Sun Ra’s “altered destiny”. Although this was shown in many different ways, it seemed especially interesting that earthy desire seemed to be a majorly white concept. Sun Ra was on the planet to reconnect black people of Earth with the natural. He was only doing this for black people, which implied that this connection to naturality (shown partially through his music) is a black concept itself.

The natural was presented as a black concept, while the material was white. This was really made clear through the film’s portrayal of white characters, primarily the two men from NASA. In this case, power is the early desire, as it is only really connected with material gain. When the women laugh at the men, they return and beat them up, to reestablish the power they’ve lost(?) from the teasing by asserting dominance through violence. Also, in one of the final scenes, when they interrogate Sun Ra, they are only focused on where he gets his “power” from so they can take it for themselves; in one case, they reference the African space program. They are unable to look at the world from a lense that reaches beyond material profit, and will go as far as murder to try and obtain this for themselves, or to stop others from being more powerful than them. The shot of the white men trying to interrogate Sun Ra for this purpose, standing over him as he was tied up, was a perfect image to capture this concept of the white man’s obsession with the material versus the black man’s roots in the natural, or the ability to reach the “altered destiny”.

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