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Holly(h)ood & The Black Experience

"Here we go again...."

This was my initial thought when I saw the advertisement for the Annapurna Pictures/MGM film entitled "Detroit" which chronicles the situation that occurred at the Algiers Motel in Detroit, Michigan in 1967 where Carl Cooper (Age 17), Aubrey Pollard (Age 19) and Fred Temple (Age 18) were murdered by Detroit Police officers, as the Medical Examiner in the case found that the three young men were found in "non-aggressive postures" (non-threatening) while NO guns were found at the hotel; Yet, the officers "feared for their lives" (Where have we heard that before?)

I vividly recall watching "Selma" while forcing myself to hold my tears as I watched Jimmie Lee Jackson's murder at the hands of an Alabama State Trooper and now-Congressman and American hero John Lewis have his cranium cracked through the blunt force of a police baton for the terrible crime of daring to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge (named after a Ku Kux Klan Grand Dragon). This resonated with me on a multitude of levels, as my Mom and Pop were born in 1952 and 1950, respectively, and spent their formative years in the Jim Crow South. This meant that they were forced to use restrooms, water fountains, lunch counters, etc. that were separate and apart from Caucasian folks. My brother and I are fortunate in the regard that our parents raised us to evaluate people on a subjective basis, irrespective of skin color, despite the injustices that they faced, so this allowed me to effectively temper the ire that I felt after watching "Selma"...

There seems to be a distinct appetite for making films that constantly and consistently rehash Black suffering such as the aforementioned two films in addition to "Django Unchained" and "12 Years A Slave". If this bulls**t isn't enough for you -- the proverbial powers-that-be are looking to take the nonsense up 1,000 notches, as is the case where the creators of the hit HBO program "Game of Thrones" are looking to air a program entitled "Confederate" which is set in a dystopian reality (to everyone but Trump supporters) where the Southern states successfully secede from the United States of America and slavery remains legal through present times. Instead of getting angry all over again, my brain started to ponder ideas for movies/television series such as:

  • What if Nat Turner's Rebellion had succeeded?

  • What if John Brown's Raid of Harper's Ferry had carried out it's purpose?

  • A film that accurately depicts Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution?

  • What if Cinque and the other Africans that took over the Amistad escaped and never stood trial?

We can take this hypothetical reality thing in a myriad of directions but it seems that the prevailing thought process entails the continued relegation of Black folk to second-class citizenry. While I enjoy a good movie as much as the next person, I simply cannot support these films that pour salt in wounds that have yet to heal -- Hollywood can stand to do better in making and promoting films that could lead to potential solutions as it relates to the societal crises that we face -- then again, maybe my mindset is too Utopian -- there's not enough money to be made in the cure.

Ray Wiley...

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