'The Passage' Season 1: Expendable youth the focus of a riveting start to vampire thriller
As crucial as she is for the success of the medical trial called Project NOAH, Amy is also considered quite disposable for them.
Fox's new show, 'The Passage' has been a simple story about a lot of burning issues. From powerful authorities bringing down the nation to an apocalyptic climate for their personal gain, to the government treating criminals and young black orphans as 'expendables', the show based on Justin Cronin's novel of the same name doesn't let the story of survival fall prey to the cliches of its genre. And while the sci-fi and the supernatural come together to make it a dystopian vampire flick, 'The Passage' also manages to shine in portraying how black children are treated in general.
The official synopsis of the show describes it as: "An epic, character‐driven thriller about a secret government medical facility experimenting with a dangerous virus that could either cure all disease or cause the downfall of the human race. The series focuses on a 10‐year‐old girl named Amy Bellafonte (Saniyya Sidney), who is chosen to be a test subject for this experiment and Brad Wolgast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), the federal agent who becomes her surrogate father as he tries to protect her.”
But even though it might seem like a wonderful tale of a grown white man taking a little Black girl under his wing and protecting her, the way the rest of the characters treat Amy highlights the persistent issue of Black girls being seen as persons beyond their age, even capable of crimes that other girls from different races aren't subjected to. Amy here, the protagonist, is a 10-year-old black girl and right from the start, she is treated as just an object for a cure that could help humanity survive.
As crucial as she is for the success of the medical trial called Project NOAH, Amy is also considered quite disposable for them in matters unrelated to the project. Now the argument might be that authorities treat all test subjects with that very sense of them being dispensable commodities, but in 'The Passage' we do not see them being so lackadaisical about the other subjects. It is only with their handling of Amy that the issue of black girls being deemed as negative characters is highlighted.
For starters, Amy's introduction to viewers is done through a scene where she is in trouble at school. Even though the reason behind her retaliation was self-defense, people do not consider Amy a little child, the way they would with a white girl. When Amy is sitting all by herself at a diner during closing time, instead of being worried about her safety or looking for the orphaned child's guardian, they just want her out of the premises.
Even when it comes to people showing somewhat concern over the child who's all of 10, they aren't doing it for her security. At the same diner, a black waitress enquires from Amy about her mother but doesn't consider warning social services about an abandoned child in their vicinity. She asks Amy about her parents just to get her out before closing the diner - thus highlighting that even among their own race, little black girls are perceived as grown beyond their age and self-sufficient enough to protect themselves.
The same happens when authorities get to the scene and viewers finally think that okay, there is someone to save the easily vulnerable child from criminals and predators. Amy is placed in an overcrowded house by a social worker and then on begins her tale of self-sustenance. She has just lost her mother and needs to be comforted and taken care off lest something evil happens. But nobody shows her an iota of compassion because she is deemed mature enough. This only makes her an easier target for people from Project NOAH who are able to take her away without any issues because the foster parent doesn't care enough.
Through the course of the plot, things finally change for Amy when she is rescued by Wolgast and ironically enough, it is a white man who is able to provide her the amount of care, protection, and nurturing a child of her age needs. He goes beyond his ways and turns his back on the project which had sent him to retrieve her in the first place, because to Wolgast, Amy is just a little girl. And while that reinstills our faith, it doesn't change the potential risk Amy is running purely because she is a black girl whose parents have died. To the rest of the world, especially Project NOAH, even though Amy is an eminent subject as they need a kid for the trial to be carried out on, she isn't irreplaceable at all.
Back in 2017, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality did a study on the treatment of black girls in America, findings of which had managed to shock the nation quite a bit. Titled 'Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls,' the study's findings put into perspective how that exclusive section of the population is always treated with prejudice and deemed notorious - or less innocent than other girls of the same age, but from another race, especially white girls.
From overly sexualizing them at tender ages to accusing them falsely and also holding them accountable for adultlike behavior, the discrimination was brutal and aplenty. And this is exactly how Amy's story pans out in the plot of 'The Passage', drawing comparisons from real-world statistics and their unfair treatment of little black girls.