When I heard that Ava Duvernay was in the process of telling the true story of the Central Park 5, I was excited. I felt like this would give us a much needed view into a story that is not well known by this generation. I thought it would be a step froward for the Black community to see this portrayal on screen and have the “accused” be humanized and not seen as villains. As I spent more time weighing this out, my mind changed quite a bit. Keep reading to find out the 3 reasons I decided not to watch “When They See Us”.
- I’m not interested in re-living the trauma
For years now, I have immersed myself in studying Black history; MY history. I am very well aware of the injustices and mistreatments my ancestors faced. I have seen pictures, video documentation, and read about the beatings, whippings, lynchings, burnings and even mental and emotional abuse my people were forced to endure. I have seen footage of things I couldn’t imagine actually witnessing. The pain caused by seeing these things helped me decide not to watch this series. Why is it necessary to re-live this trauma? Many say the series served as a way to show the kids as “real people” but, that’s a fact that all Black people are already aware of. We have always seen them as real people who were railroaded by an unjust system; the same system that is railroading Black kids and adults today. Social media and daily news cycles show me just what I would have witnessed from this series.
2. I already see injustices daily
I work with a lot of white people. Daily! I see injustices and am angered by them weekly. For a person who has to deal with racism on the job, how would I benefit from seeing these injustices portrayed on film? I’m sure this would only serve as another way to anger me and leave me ready to fight all the white people I work with. I need my job so #NoMaamPam I ain’t able to watch that!
3. I don’t see a lesson to be learned
There are many things I watch for entertainment but, a series of this sort should teach something. What lesson is there to be learned from watching this? What knowledge would I take away? I am well acquainted with how unjust the “just”ice system is for Black people and how we are viewed as criminals even when no evidence is presented against us. I am conscious of the fact that so many young, innocent, Black boys are jailed without proper and due trials and representation. Considering those things, I didn’t see a teachable moment in this film for me.
As much as I feel the story is necessary for those who aren’t aware of it and up to date on society’s assault on Black men and women, I also feel it would serve as more of a hinderance for those of us who live and see injustice everyday.
Did you watch it? What were your thoughts? How do you feel about my reasons for not watching? Let’s have a conversation…