Updated: Jul 22, 2021
As a young Black woman, member of Generation Z, and as a college scholar, I cannot dismiss the current racial disparities and state of our country. Throughout the year’s films like Fruitvale Station and more recently television shows including the Chi and Insecure portray scenes of uncomfortable moments when dealing with the police.
Fruitvale Station stars Michael B. Jordan who depicts Oscar Grant as he goes through a typical day which ultimately leads to his death by a subway officer on New Year’s Day. As a young adolescent, I can recall watching Fruitvale Station and the lasting psychological impact it had on me. The film was emotionally taxing. I remember feeling as though there was no resolution or justice served at the end of the film.
In more recent years directors have made a more conscious effort to depict the impact of the uncomfortable interactions with the police while not wallowing in Black suffering or harm to Black bodies. In HBO's hit series Insecure one of the main characters Lawrence played by Jay R. Ellis in season two is pulled over for making an illegal U-turn by a White officer. The interaction is clumsy with Lawrence having dropped his wallet in efforts to retrieve his driver’s license and his blatant uncomfortable body language. As a viewer, you can feel how awkward the interaction is and how the White cop holds all the power in the scene. The cop feels more comfortable with Lawrence after seeing his ‘Hoyas’ plate and discovers he went to Georgetown University.
Another series that achieved and excelled at this concept was ShowTime’s series the Chi In season two the star of the show Brandon who is portrayed by Jason Mitchell is walking home when he is approached by two police officers. Brandon is instantly put up against the police vehicle while the officers rummage through his personal belongings. During the interaction, Brandon has a pained expression on his face for the potential physical violence the police could potentially invoke on him. After the police officers do not find anything illegal in Brandon’s possession they let him go but only after they remind him “when an officer tells you to stop you stop.” Brandon is clearly shaken after they hand him his backpack and resumes his walk back home.
The films and television series mentioned do an amazing job of shifting the narrative on screen. Instead of displaying bodily harm to Black bodies in efforts to show how harmful police brutality, can be they depict the nuances and racial undertones Blacks have to deal with.
Are there any other films not mentioned in this blog post where the narrative is shifted on screen? If so, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org