WHEN THEY SEE US
When They See Us:
A Film By Ava DuVernay
Based On #TheExoneratedFive
What if 👦🏻👦🏼 boys were created equal?
What if all 👦🏻👦🏼👦🏽👦🏾👦🏿 boys were created equal?
What if our 👦🏽👦🏾👦🏿 boys were created equal?
Unfortunately, ‘When They See Us’... we aren’t the equivalent of a creation to be seen as equal.
Ava DuVernay’s Netflix Miniseries, ‘When They See Us’, showcases the horrid tales, twist and turns of life changing events.
I would like to suggest before 👀 watching the series to watch the actual 2012 documentary 🎞 film, The Central Park 5, by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns along aside David McMahon, available online and other media outlets. The documentary itself opens your minds to a time in the lives of 🖐🏾 young black and brown boys all underage living to surviving in New 🗽 York.
April 19, 1989, will be a day that remains eventful of the sorts in our minds after viewing the miniseries, but for The Central Park 5... it would be a day their lives and livelihoods would be sold into a system of incarceration ⛓ and systemic ⚖️ discrimination to keep them confined.
I was born
September 19, 1988
A year to seven months prior to the year and date that #TheExoneratedFive would become those “super predators” the press 📰 and privileged had persecuted, personified even purchased 💰 them to be publicly.
Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise.
Innocent boys, becoming boys, interrupted by injustices inserting itself like a lethal 💉 injection on life.
The rape and brutal attack on a female jogger 🏃🏼♀️ in the late of night at New York’s Central Park itself was degrading, but for New York’s finest to act accordingly was detrimental to the young lives of five.
A night of “boys being boys”, hanging out known as “Wild’n”, enjoying the hot Harlem weather became an infestation of corrupt law prosecutors and 🚔 👮🏼♂️👮🏻♂️👮🏼♂️cohering these children into a game of “good cop, bad cop”, confusion and chaos.
Personally the way they manhandled matters to maneuver and persuade them then as children to lie on themselves and each other was a mere modern day lynching or influential white privilege with forceful intent for black on black crime to black suicide.
They even found a way to fuck with McCray’s father, as he grew frustrated by Antron’s denial not willing to falsely comply.
The wrongfully accused and wrongfully convicted, yet still seemed to the public as animals, creatures and criminals convicted of crimes to cease life.
Yes, to cease life as in the highly paid for Donald Trump ads to push a narrative to Bring Back The Death Penalty, but he is so here for “a black”.
Side note: That scene when Momma 👩🏾🦱 Salaam was having a 🥃 with homegirl saying how 🍊 time was soon to end.
‘If Your Girl Only Knew’...
🤦🏾♂️ Dionne Warwick wasn’t fortune 🔮 telling then?!
“They will lie on us
They will kill us
They will lock us up!”
And that they did... lied on those children, locked them up and languished their youth.
It all sounds so familiar as I am reminded of my #KaliefBrowder blog entry on his false incarceration and wrongful death they (NY’s Finest) when accused him of crimes not committed losing his childhood in exchange for torture, shackles and chains.
The only difference is the year, as the justice system, was and is, still the same then, as it is now. Blacks felt a bit of hope yet faced the same adversities and injustices during the Obama era as well #TrayvonMartin to #MikeBrown to #TamirRice.
Our childhood into teenage years are filled with memories of meeting friends, summer 🏕 camps, house 🎵🥤 parties and school age 🙈 crushes.... not long hours of starvation, interrogation and abuse mentally, verbally and physically.
That scene with Little Kevin playing his trumpet in the middle of the street spoke complete #VOLUME as you literally could hear the childhood being stripped away as the horn played out.
The anxieties of watching this throughout the first episode, alone, lead me to continue as I can only imagine those living through the experience and the trauma it has caused their families and themselves.
The separation of families had put it in perspective while I’d watched... that the time period was only an aftermath of the Crack Epidemic and only 5 years before the infamous 1994 Crime Bill, both situations causing an unfortunate displacement and disenfranchisement of black and brown bodies.
America 🇺🇸 suffers from marginalization at its most high and apparently there are more levels until one peaks 📊.
The four part series shared a timeline of prison time within and without walls.
The many moments throughout were purely ground breaking and truth be told... brought a whole fucking 😡 attitude as I brewed with 😤 anger and 🥺😭 emotions of overwhelming sadness at the imprisonment and neglect.
SO 👏🏾 FUCKING 👏🏾 WRONG 👏🏾
Glory days✨ soon had arrived in forms of release dates to unexpected physical altercations resulting in their innocence until proven guilty was valid and they weren’t ever GUILTY as they became exonerated.
All charges dropped.
A settlement suit filed.
Family closure with future years for growth.
However, we all know no dollar amount can compensate for a period of time in which life was meant to grow, mold and shape oneself originality, style and intellect. 💯
I still recall from the documentary film when Raymond Santana refused to leave from the prison out the back as he made sure he walked out through the front like the FREE and INNOCENT individual he is!
The film’s final ending into the film’s credit shed 💡 on the life of #TheExoneratedFive and their many accolades and ventures since from starting families, fashion brands to relief + aid programs for felons.
They did not let the system break them after being wrongfully bounded.
They fought back and fought with great diligence as now their story has ☄️phoenix at a time when social media, politics and entertainment collide with the many justice and injustices of the world to be... seen!
I want to thank #TheExoneratedFive for allowing the brilliance of Ava DuVernay and Array Productions, to story tell in such a gifted way on film. The casting of each character was remarkable as they give the blood, sweat and tear in each role. I even read how production had on site mental-health counselors to assist with staff and actors.
Speaking of actors...
The scene between Korey, Marci and Momma Wise played by Jharrell Jereome, Isis King and Niecy Nash, is one to see, feel and hear, as it was real. #TransLivesMatter is more than a a hashtag or call out to 🗣 #SayHerName, but too acknowledge the daily malice and murders against Trans Women of Color. I was deeply moved by that scene in Episode 4, as it is such a harsh reality on their livelihoods and we too are guilty for the bloodshed and abuse rebelling against authenticity in one’s truth.
The creation that is ‘When They See Us’, is more than an award worthy film with more than award worthy actors, but a testament to unfortunate tragedies and unexpected outcomes seeing us.
Lastly, I encourage you all to watch the documentary film, watch the miniseries on Netflix (again if you’ve already), share their story along with others and more importantly make sure WE SEE US!
- Justin Michael Hendrix
Follow Up: Oprah Winfrey and OWN interviewed the cast, staff and #TheExoneratedFive for a When They See Us NOW Special, please make sure to watch it as well to hear more about their lives afterwards.
If you notice I don’t mention those of unimportance by name as they aren’t of relevance, but to some up my thoughts on #LindaFairstein #ElizabethLederer #MichaelSheehan and the rest this is ones for you, as this is the only time their named...
I am now bringing forth exhibit Syleena Johnson:
The Optimistic Me: “What you have done to these children is a sin. And there’s a special place in hell for a bitch like you!”