A Black Man’s Ode To Arya Stark

Oh Arya Stark, how doth we appreciate thee?  Words cannot express.  On Sunday, HBO’s Game of Thrones’ season seven premiere brought us back to the tumultuous land of Westeros, where foolish men who would be King found themselves victims of their own avarice, hubris, lust and glutinous pride.  The Boltons are no more, the lords of House Karstark have fallen on the battlefield in traitorous disgrace and all the Lannister heirs are dead.  Leading into this season, it was already apparent that the fate of the Seven Kingdoms and all the known realms now falls into the hands of women who dare not tread with blind pride for learning the hard lessons of their menfolk.  

Game Of Thrones on Twitter

@dlgr1098 A girl is ready. You’ve unlocked Arya’s #GoTS7 poster. #WinterIsHere https://t.co/xBmFeWubfL

Cersei  Lannister is no longer Queen Regent, but the actual ruling head of Westeros after the suicide of her youngest child, King Tommen. Daenerys Targaryen has arrived to the last stronghold of House Targareyan. Yara Greyjoy and her brother Theon have stolen the best ships in the Ironborn fleet and have allied themselves with House Targareyan.

Sansa Stark, no longer a naive little waif, has grown into a capable strategist and counselor to her half-brother, Jon Snow. Bran Stark is now the three-eyed raven equipped with all the secrets of Westeros. And Arya Stark has evaded death numerous times to visit delectable revenge upon Walder Frey and his house.  

The reason why certain mediums of art are so universal is because of the truths contained therein.  The world that Game of Thrones creator George R.R.Martin put together was inspired by many historic events, medieval legends and folk tales, most of which were gleaned from European sources.  

Game of Thrones Season 7: Official Trailer (HBO)

Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres 7.16.17 on HBO. #GoTS7

In a contemporary age where people of color are clamoring for better and more diverse roles in Hollywood, Game of Thrones is something of an anomaly. Though there are characters who may consider themselves as Black or of African descent featured in the series, the main cast members are white without exception.  

The characters that are black are former slaves, soldiers or personal guards of one sort or another. This is particularly so in Essos, a land that has many landscapes and landmarks that are reminiscent of ancient civilizations in the Far East,  the Near East and Northern Africa. 

The roles, though well done by the actors who portray them, aren’t groundbreaking at all and one could easily make an argument that these black former slaves who rally to support their liberator, “The Breaker of Chains” who is a blond white woman, as more of the same types of roles that black performers have been forced to accept for nearly one hundred years.

But just because a show with a majority white cast has a character that frees slaves doesn’t mean she has to be my favorite character.  As was stated earlier, the popularity of the show has a great deal to do with the universal nature of many of the plotlines.  Last year I wrote a piece following the season six finale, Black Folks Love Games of Thrones, in which I stated that House Stark was the family I was most invested in.  

Eventually, as Stark after Stark met a gruesome end, my favorite became Arya Stark.  Though the slow-burn of her character arc was frustrating, her get-back was so scintillating that I forgave the show for its transgression of allowing the Stark clan to suffer an inordinate amount. Now, that’s saying a great deal considering all the death and mayhem on the show.

Game of Thrones: Season 7 Episode 1 Clip: Arya and Ed Sheeran (HBO)

Watch Ed Sheeran on the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones airs on HBO on Sundays.

At the start of the first episode of season seven, we see the guise of Walder Frey, as well as all his most trusted lieutenants and banner men, gathered for an impromptu feast to celebrate the murderous treachery that took place at The Red Wedding. The men pat themselves on the back as Frey names off their exploits. 

However, as they drank their wine, Walder’s tone became less congratulatory and more admonishing by the second. By the time the men suspected something may be wrong with their callous, cold-hearted leader it was already too late. 

Trained as an assassin by the cult of the Many-Faced God in disguises and poison, Arya expertly utilizes her training to dispatch those who cheered as her beloved mother and brother were butchered, and the army of House Stark was killed by their former allies and seemingly affable hosts.

Game of Thrones Season 7: #WinterIsHere Trailer #2 (HBO)

It may be the first day of summer, but #WinterisHere on 7.16. Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres this July. Learn more at http://www.gameofthrones.com

Revenge. We’re often taught that it is a bad thing and to shy away from it.  To soothe ourselves, many of us speak of forgiveness, divine intervention and karma to buffer ourselves against swallowing the truths surrounding truly wicked individuals.  

But if we were allowed to be just a little bit honest with ourselves regarding those who have purposefully visited death and misfortune upon our loved ones, we would call for righteous redemption, retribution and, as James Brown so eloquently stated, “Some Get Back!”  

Now, you guys can pussyfoot around do the politically-correct thing and ally your imaginary flags with House Targareyan, but the phrase ‘if you let one wolf live then all the sheep are in danger” struck me like a tone of  bricks for a reason. House Stark represents justice, redemption and revenge. What brother with multi-generational roots in America can’t get down with that vibe?

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