“When They See Us”: From a Young Black Mother’s Prospective

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It’s taken me awhile to process, digest and write about “When They See Us” the Netflix film from director Ava Duvernay.

As a African-American mother to an African-American little boy, I have worried about his safety growing up since he was in my belly. I remember watching the Trayvon Martin case when I was pregnant with him, and feeling sick because of the outcome of the trial. I’ve witnessed time and time again the injustice of young black men in the country and it is truly horrible as a parent, as a mother to watch.

When the Central Park 5 or shall I say the “Exonerated Five”, case initially started back in April 1989, I was only 4 years old so I don’t remember it.

When I saw the trailer awhile back this year, I was intrigued on what this was about because I had never heard of this case or these young men before. However, I knew if Ms. Duvernay was shining a light on this, it must be good.

As a mother of a son, I believe was so hard to stomach because it was a matter that tugged at you heart. You really felt for these young men as soon as they were arrested and as a mother, you couldn’t help but put yourself in these boys mother’s shoes.

I only got 30 minutes into the first part and I became breathless.

At this point I, had not idea there were 3 more parts to this. I had to take a break. I felt helpless myself. Like what if my son, was detained by the police wrongfully and questioned and I had no idea about it?

They fact that these young men were randomly picked up, accused falsely, interrogated with out parental consent and charged with a crime unjustly just brought me to tears. They were so helpless, and it was such a witch hunt.

As a mom I think about when my son grows up. My husband has had conversations with me about what he was told as a young black man and so has my father. It makes me sick that someone could just snatch away these young men’s childhoods like that. The whole thing just seemed like an unimaginable nightmare, but it happened.

The fact that it took so long for justice to be served and these men had to endure six to thirteen years imprisoned is mind-boggling.

Although after the third part, my head was spinning, something told me to keep watching.

I knew there had to be some kind of justice in this. Some kind of happy ending this time. But, I know for many young men that are arrested falsely like Kalief Browder, the story doesn’t always end so happily.

Lastly, the title…”When They See Us” is so powerful. Because time and time again, it has been proven when they see a young black male, they see a threat. A Criminal. A Thug. I believe this was the perfect title for this movie.

After I watched, I told my husband “you gotta see this”. My husband, A black man, said it just hit to close to home for him. Although he has never been arrested or detained he just couldn’t find cause to watch just yet. He said it would be like, “watching a real-life horror story”. I get that babe, because it was.

Are you a mom? Did you see, “When They See Us”? What did you think? Leave a comment below.

Until next time…

Nicole Alicia sig

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