Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Worry and Hope

If you've been a somewhat regular reader of mine you know a few things about me. If this is your first time, let me give you the quick rundown. I'm human, Black, a husband, a dad, a lover of both good and bad movies of every genre. I occasionally weave my own social commentary and experiences into reviews of movies that allow it, while still trying to be fair and clear about my praises and criticisms of every film I write about.

Now that we're all caught up, let's talk about what's been on most of our minds.

I had a written response all planned out in my head a couple weeks ago when I woke up to video of George Floyd being murdered in the street by Derek Chauvin, a White police officer as three other officers did nothing. Yes, I refuse to say "allegedly." This came within days of several other high profile racially motivated events, one of which was also a video a Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, being murdered in the street by White men. Weeks before, a Black woman, Breonna Taylor, was gunned down in her own home by cops serving a warrant - at the wrong address for a person who was already in police custody. And I'm not breaking any news here, but these are just a few in a long line of similar events.

After the Floyd video, things changed rapidly and our collective heads are spinning so I couldn't gather my thoughts in a coherent enough manner for a blog post, but I'm going to try it. Finally.

Instead of going through all the talking points we've heard, and I've said to people in plenty of conversations in real life, I'm going to tell you what I'm worried about. I'm worried that WE are being set up for disappointment. This movie is starting to hit a lot of the same plot points as many others. After the Black person is killed at the beginning, the White character who deemed himself, occasionally herself, executioner gives their side of the story which always involves one or more of the following phrases: looks suspicious, fit the description, resisted arrest, didn't cooperate, appeared to have a gun, made a sudden movement, self-defense. They then go home as if nothing happened. The only reason these people eventually get arrested is because of public outcry.

That last part, friends, is the engine that keeps the train of slaughter going. The people charged with upholding the law act as if it is okay for a White person to kill a Black person, so long as the killer hits the key talking points, and it never makes the national news. It's all done under the guise of one of America's most famous legal slogans, "innocent until proven guilty." The mass hypocrisy is that perpetrators of other ethnicities are not afforded the same luxury. In most cases of non-White offenders, at least to my knowledge and experience, arrests are made and if they are not financially well-off, they're presented with two options: admit to guilt (take a plea bargain), or go to trial with an overworked public defendant who may or may not be as interested in proving your innocence as in getting it over quickly because of their immense workload.

In any movie worth its celluloid (digitaloid, these day?), the opening acts are merely the setup for the climax. In this genre, and this film is no different, the setup includes a lengthy montage of the victim's past indiscretions. Everything this person has ever done wrong, or even of questionable taste, is brought up as a way to discount their worth as a human being. So much has been reported about George Floyd over the last few days that, if I didn't know any better, I'd think he was suspecting of killing someone. It feels like the powers that be are trying to discount his worth to the point where enough "fine people" can brush off his killing as just getting another bad apple off the street. It seeks to put enough doubt in the minds of potential jurors that they might follow the line of thinking that goes as follows: Floyd was a bad person, therefore he must have been doing bad things, after all, these trusty police officers said he was. Acquittal is easy when the "heroes" are presented as guys just doing their jobs. Within a year, we could be told Chauvin and his fellow officers are found not guilty.

That's what scares me.

"But Dell, there's video."

There was a long, excruciating video of Rodney King being mercilessly beaten by police officers in 1991. Those officers were initially exonerated. Two of them were eventually sacrificed on the altar of "oops" justice by the federal government after riots ripped Los Angeles in half.

Over the last few weeks, there were instances of riots all around the country, however, most of the people rioting were either right-wing antagonizers intent on making the actual protesters look bad, really far left anarchists pushing their own agenda or, surprise, police officers over zealously, often needlessly, breaking up peaceful crowds by throwing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets. In the history of American riots, these are but minor dust-ups. Now imagine if Chauvin and company get off.



I am.

But I also have hope.

I have hope that the proverbial's bull back is finally broken. I have hope the wheels of justice will turn without the road having to be paved with more bodies.

One reason for hope is that, at some point, right and wrong has to truly become undeniable fact rather than a matter of political opinion. The existence of video after video after video makes it increasingly harder to justify unjust actions. Those caught committing heinous acts can no longer hide behind the blue wall without fear of exposure. In a sad, sad way, visible evidence of us being treated inhumanely may finally validate our humanity in the eyes of those who, in the past, denied it, ignored it, or were indifferent to it. In case you didn't understand, we as Black people don't need White validation. We know we're human. White people in general, but hopefully not you, still need to learn this. More accurately, they need to learn that equality is not just something to say you believe in, but something to practice and demand. It appears they are learning this.


My optimism is always cautious.

I know this is a movie blog, so thank you for indulging me. As a reward, I do have some movies to recommend. Of course, these are all topical. And good. I've reviewed or just written about the ones with links. I haven't reviewed the others, but enjoy them all, nonetheless.

Queen and Slim
Black & Blue
Just Mercy
Fast Color
See You Yesterday
Higher Learning
Cornbread, Earl, and Me
I Am Not Your Negro


  1. I do hope we get some kind of resolution even though I'm a pessimist considering the fact that we have Dookie Tank hiding in his bunker at the White House. I just saw a video of a KKK Rally here in Rome, Georgia and voter suppression in Piedmont Park where people waited in line while the more affluent Chastain area had no trouble voting (mainly because it's an area filled with white conservatives). Black Lives Do Fucking Matter. I'm Hispanic and I support some form of justice or else we're all fucked. Fight the Power!

    Anyways, hope you're doing well and staying safe in this fucking pandemic.

    1. The best thing about Trump is that we have the chance to vote him out in a couple months, though I'm sure the KKK will rear its ugly head all over the country. Fight the Power, indeed!

      So far we're doing well. Hope you and yours are doing well, also.

  2. If you weren't aware, I'm white. I mean, like I'm translucently white, like you can shine a light on me and read newsprint through me white. I had my DNA done (of course I did--that's how white I am ), and 99.9% of me is Northern and Western European--my ancestry doesn't come from anywhere south of Paris or west of Berlin, and a lot of it can throw a rock into the Arctic Circle. I just want to make that clear from the jump.

    My town, which has about 45,000 residents on a good day and closer to 65,000 when the unversity is in session, has had daily demonstrations that have been entirely peaceful and, I'm happy to say, generally supported by the police. On the other hand, we also had a police incident last year where a young Black man was forceably choked in what a lot of people consider a bogus arrest, and (surprise, surprise) the investigation into the incident led to no charges and the offending officer still being on the force. I went to the community meetings about this, and there were and are a lot of scared people because of this. I remember a woman talking about how her son, a 6'2" Black high school student, is not allowed by her to drive after dark because she doesn't want anything to happen to him. That for me was more sobering than anything else at that meeting--to understand that that's the reality of someone who lives in my town with me.

    So I made a decision then and re-upped it now. If I see a BIPOC pulled over, I pull over and I watch. I make sure that person leaves that encounter the way they started it. I know I can't do much if something bad happens, but I can be a witness, and I can use my skin to maybe defend someone in a potentially bad situation.

    This shit has to change, and it's only going to change meaningfully if a lot of people who look like me start dealing with some very uncomfortable truths.

    Stay safe.

    1. I knew you were white, but I wasn't aware of your level of translucency, lol. I'm happy to hear that support is coming even from your neck of the woods, but of course, sad to hear the bogus arrest story. And trust me, the woman who told that story about her son would have told it the same had her son been a foot shorter. I know because I have the same fear for myself and my son though neither of us stands taller than 5'5". Yes, I have a family of tiny people. In the case of that woman's son, his size is viewed as a complementary weapon to his Blackness. Terrible to say, worse to live through.

      Thank you for being an ally and I applaud you for pulling over to ensure the safety of another human being.

    2. Should have said "east of Berlin" above. My ancestry is basically British Isles, France/Benelux countries, Germany, and Scandanavia.

  3. On the one hand I admire them for protesting on the streets while on the other I find it irresponsible to gather at this time considering COVID-19 is still a factor. But maybe the two things are linked with frustration boiling over about the coronavirus spilling into the fight for justice? Very important issue and looks like changes are coming for police arrests. Another film I'd add to the list is La Haine (1995)

    1. I've thought often about the COVID-19 angle. At some point, fear for one's own safety is quelled by the weight of the situation. In this case, we're talking centuries old systemic oppression. In my eyes, that's a worthy enough cause, and one that's always been dangerous in the moment, so COVID-19 is just one more possibility on top of all the things that can happen to you as a protester. I still need to see La Haine, which I've heard great things about.

  4. Dell, this post is such an inspiring read. As a white woman I'll never know the pain and the fear that black people face on a day to day basis, but I'm using this time to educate myself and will continue that!

    1. Thank you. Glad you found some inspiration here. Just remember that you're not expected to learn everything about the Black experience, and honestly, I have no idea how it differs from what Black people experience in your country. However, you are required to always be willing to learn and be truly empathetic.

  5. You bring up something that's been bothering me, and it's people trying to demonize Floyd, as if being arrested in the past is a valid excuse to be murdered. It's gross and racist and the people spreading it don't even stop to think about how problematic that is. I too am hopeful justice will finally be served, but I'm also cautious considering this country's history of letting down so many black lives in the past.

    1. Thank you. I have one small disagreement, though. A good chunk of people spreading this know exactly how problematic it is. That's why they do it.