Thursday, July 18, 2024

“When They See Us” is Hard but Necessary.

June 27, 2019 by  
Filed under Ent., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us”, which premiered on Netflix May 31, 2019, has brought to life the horror of five young men known as the “Central Park 5”. Some people knew who they were, and some may have seen the 2012 documentary. However, watching this miniseries became a mental nightmare for many black people.  While some of us could understand that, though this is gut wrenchingly painful, we need to watch. However, some black people made it clear, via social media, that not only were they unable to watch, but mentally they couldn’t bring themselves to be traumatized. It seems like week in and week out we tune in to find out another black person has been brutalized by the police or killed. We are constantly reading about the abuse of power in law enforcement, and we are tired of it. However, is it wise to close our eyes? What are we saying in declaring we can’t watch?

We are in a space as a community whereby we are acknowledging what we can handle mentally, and this is a positive thing. We are being more honest about the discussion of mental health, and with all of the trauma that black people experience in this country it is a very necessary discussion. As a people we know that America is a nightmare for many black people, and when they think about what could happen to their children it invokes a fear beyond words. I was once told the most frightening horror story was history because its real. Some of the most terrifying monsters are people. It is only fair that black people are at a point of fed up, exhausted and out of mental space when it comes to the treatment of our people when it comes to law enforcement. However, we might have to muster up the space, because the treatment of the men we know as the “Central Park 5” is not history…it is our current reality.

As a community we must watch and look for things we can possibly do differently to try to protect our children. This is not a call to criticize the parent in the film, but to learn all we can to avoid that fate as much as possible. There is a call to prepare our children as much as we can. However, it is important that we prepare ourselves. The parents and members of the community need to do all we can to learn all that we can about the justice system, lawyers that would assist our children, and we might need to start setting money aside little by little just in case we ever need said lawyer.

Our ancestors, and for some elders, endured a blatant terrorism that we can only see in our nightmares. They endured family members being lynched, and in many cases having to cut those members down when they weren’t set on fire. They couldn’t shelter their children because it was in their face. They endured crosses being burned on their lawn, so no place was safe. At the false accusation of one white woman a town could be destroyed. If our people built up their community it could be burned to the ground. Nothing, and no one was safe. It was hard to get acknowledged by the courts let alone justice, and it was much harder than what we face today. No one acknowledged their mental health, many of them couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment for their ailments.

However, they kept pushing which is why we are hear today. Living in this country is mentally exhausting and emotionally taxing, but we can’t close our eyes. For the sake of our children we must keep pushing with our eyes wide open. We must keep looking within our stories for ways that we can better protect ourselves, and our children. “When They See Us” is definitely hard to watch, and you might have to watch in parts, but please take the time to watch.

Staff Writer; Chelle’ St James

May also connect with this sister via Twitter; ChelleStJames.

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