When this documentary dropped on May 31st, A day later, I got this text from my girlfriend:
Safe to say, my friends know me very well.
I watched this 4-part limited series and was instantly taken back to 1989 as if I was their age during that time. I was actually 3 years and 4 months old.
The characters in this film really took me there. Like really there. I felt their pain, hurt and fear through the television. Ava put me right in the scene with the boys.
And it was from the very beginning of episode one. When the boys were just being boys.
They were hanging out with the fellas, mackin’ on their girlfriend and yes, doing a little heckling. Y’all can’t tell me you NEVER did anything like that before.
But then it changed. April 19, 1989 changed those 5 boys lives forever. They became History.
I have several feelings about this phenomenal series. Several. But it all just boils down to this. Nothing has changed.
Black and Brown people are still the most disadvantaged group when it comes to the justice system. We are policed and jailed more often than any other race.
Just the other day, my mother was in town. We were shopping at an outlet mall not far from her hotel near BWI airport.
We went into a store and casually strolled and looked at merchandise.
We were being followed.
Every time I picked up an article of clothing, the clerk would walk over near me. When I put it down, she moved away.
I walked to the left. She walked to the left.
Finally, my mother said “Can we help you?”. She responds, “Excuse me”.
“You have been following us throughout this store. Do you need something?” my mom says again to the clerk.
We were browsing workout leggings. Nothing more, nothing less. But we were being watched. And watched very carefully.
They watch us.
They watch us closely.
They watch us and are fearful.
I think to myself, fearful of what?
It blew my mind to think that Linda Fairstein actually believed that those boys could have committed such a horrendous crime. But what she saw was four Black boys and one Latino and decided to make a square fit into a circle.
When she first started to craft the story she was selling, I had several thoughts cross my mind. She, and they, hate us, is what I landed on.
Things haven’t changed, we are still fighting the same fight. We have better resources now. But we are still out here fighting. Fighting for our lives.
We are still looking over our shoulders when the police get behind us. We are still looking around to see if there is anyone else like us in the room. We are still fighting hard to prove everyone wrong. To be the “good” and “sharp” Black person in the room.
It’s tiring. I’m tired.
I’m tired of seeing my people work harder than most to turn around and be questioned more than any other employee.
I’m tired of hearing #AllLivesMatter.
I’m tired of watching my people pushed out of neighborhoods that WE established from the ground up.
I’m tired of people thinking we are a threat.
But when you see me. Know, that I know, you know, that I am Black. And know, I love being Black. And that should be nothing you are uncomfortable with or afraid of.
I just love being me.
And I love my people. I will always choose my people. We are family.
We have struggled together. Risen together. And fought together. It’s the most unofficial official family I have been apart of.
Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise – you ARE Black History.
Your story, pain, struggle and triumph is a pivotal moment in our history. It will never be forgotten.
Thank you Ava DuVernay. The actors and actresses you selected to carry out this monumental series were perfect. And hearing Nipsey’s voice during the ending credits, sealed the deal.