As I sat in the movie theatre with my family watching Frozen 2, I realized that it was not just another Disney princess movie. To this 22-year-old seminary student, Frozen 2 was a call to justice. I was captivated as I watched the journey of Elsa, Anna, and their friends to ‘right the wrongs of the past’ by bringing justice for the Northuldra indigenous community, based on the Sámi people of northern Europe. In their journey I saw our journey, the United States’ journey. This was more than a Disney fantasy movie, but a movie that offers our nation lessons in reparations. When it comes to addressing reparations in the United States, Frozen 2 teaches us that we must respond to the call, be willing to sacrifice, and be willing to imagine a new future.
In Frozen 2, Elsa responds to her own call with the ballad song “Into the Unknown.” She hears a voice calling from afar, and she feels the spirit leading her into the unknown. She begins her journey unsure of where she is going and what will be required of her but assured of the fact that she is doing what is good. Elsa is hesitant at first as this call will require her to give up the comfortable life she has created for herself. Nevertheless, she responds to the call in the same way that the Biblical prophets respond to their calls. She leaves the safety and security of life in the Kingdom of Arendelle as she ventures into the unknown. As people of faith specifically, we must respond to our own calls like Elsa does. God is calling us “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). God is calling us ‘into the unknown.’ Like Elsa, we may not know what will be required of us in the struggle for justice and liberation, but we must be willing to trust the spirit that is leading us. Additionally, like Elsa’s call to free the Northuldra community and those trapped in the Enchanted Forest, our call is to free the marginalized and oppressed of this nation. Our call to do justice is not for us but for those who will be liberated through us answering the call. Thus, Frozen 2 beckons us to respond.
Frozen 2 also discusses the need to be willing to sacrifice in the struggle for justice, liberation, and reparations. In Frozen 2, we discover that Elsa and Anna’s parents were killed in their search for the truth. Towards the end of the movie, it appears as if Elsa has sacrificed her life to discover the truth of the past that will liberate everyone else. We see this theme of sacrifice throughout history in the abolitionists who sacrificed their lives to free those who were enslaved, in those in the Civil Rights movement who sacrificed their lives for the continued struggle for civil rights, and in those who sacrifice their lives in the continued black freedom struggle and other liberation struggles. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” That is true of Elsa, Anna, and their friends, and that must be true of us as well.
Furthermore, this lesson on sacrifice is especially important for those with privileged identities. In Frozen 2, it is revealed that Elsa and Anna are both of Arendelle and Northuldra. Because of their relationships to Arendelle, they are afforded a certain privilege and responsibility to right the wrongs of the past. While it is not Elsa and Anna who caused the harm, they are responsible for righting the wrongs of their colonizer grandfather who committed the injustice in building the dam. In the United States, one argument against reparations is that most white people in society today did not own slaves. While Elsa and Anna could make this argument, they recognize that they have benefited from the harm caused by their grandfather and their responsibility in enacting justice. Moreover, when they realize that reparations in their case will require the destruction of the dam, they continue to fight for justice, even though they realize it could result in the obliteration of their kingdom, the kingdom of Arendelle. Not only is their life at risk, but the future of their kingdom is at jeopardy. Hence, sometimes reparations will require one to give up privilege, power, comfort, and property. This must be true for racial justice to occur in the United States. White people must be willing to give some things up for justice to come, and Elsa and Anna set a great example in Frozen 2.
Lastly, Frozen 2 conveys the importance of imagining a new future. While Arendelle was not destroyed, they had to create a new future that acknowledged the harm caused in the past and represented a commitment to love and unity in the future. Imagining a new future will require recognition of the pain of the past and a promise to do better in the future. As we struggle for justice, we find hope in the imagined future. While liberation looks different from each person, I imagine this is a future where all are free to simply be. Still, this is a future that will only be realized when we adhere to the lessons on reparations in Frozen 2. We must respond to the call. We must be willing to sacrifice. We must be willing to imagine a new future.