Hello friends… pardon the lack of posts and engagements on the blog lately. I had been doing a lot of reflections lately and kind of avoiding social media. There’s only so much one can take before information overload sets in… it’s a delicate balance between wanting to keep updated about what is going on and processing everything we see & hear and let them sink in.
While protests about George Floyd’s horrendous killing is still going on, with many countries across Europe and Canada showing solidarity with Black Lives Matter, one word we hear more and more lately is systemic racism. Per Wiki…
Institutional racism (also known as systemic racism) is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. It is reflected in disparities regarding wealth, income, criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other factors.
Well, one of the recent films that highlights systemic racism dramatically is JUST MERCY, and if you have not seen it yet by now, Warner Bros has made it available to stream for FREE for the month of June.
Per Variety, WB released this statement: “We believe in the power of story… Our film ‘Just Mercy,’ based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, is one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, ‘Just Mercy’ will be available to rent for free across digital platforms in the US.”
I had the privilege of seeing this film at TCFF last year and posted this review. This is an excerpt from what I wrote…
It’s the kind of film that gets you riled up for the blatant racism and injustice that sadly still hasn’t been completely eradicated to this day. The scene where attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) first met Walter McMillian’s (Jamie Foxx) family, greeted warmly by his wife who’s astounded that he’d bother to visit them packs an emotional punch. The film made me want to learn more about the McMillian’s case and others similar to his, as well as the Equal Justice Initiative that Stevenson founded in 1989. For that reason alone, the filmmakers and cast did an admirable job.
I hope you’ll take the time to watch this if you haven’t already… or if you have, this is a film worth rewatching. The topic can’t be more timely than it is now… though learning about such an important history shouldn’t just be confined to when there’s a devastating incident.
To make it easy, I thought I’d embed this YouTube link so you can watch it here:
In addition to sharing about this film, USA Today also shared a list of books for kids and adults alike to learn more about anti-racism. I think we all can always benefit for learning more about each other, and make sure these kinds of centuries-old practice of injustice don’t keep getting passed down through generations.
Have you seen JUST MERCY? Let me know your thoughts!
Unless you live under a rock or been living in another planet, you’re likely aware of the chaos and unrest that’s been happening in Minnesota… particularly in Minneapolis.
I was ready to post a review of The Trip To Greece, which I had finished last Wednesday, but honestly… I didn’t feel right posting about such a movie when all I could think about was the police brutality that led to George Floyd’s untimely death on Memorial Day. Though I’ve lived in Minnesota since the early 90s, I have never lived in Minneapolis. I live in the southern suburbs about a half an hour away, but I visit the city often on weekends. It’s so heartbreaking to see parts of the city burn, vandalized and people getting hurt… seeing the devastations that started out as peaceful protests. This past week was filled with protests, looting, rioting, etc. that caused so much chaos and destructions that stretch for miles, not just affecting the neighborhoods where Mr. Floyd lost his life, but other neighborhoods as well. Hundreds of National Guard soldiers were mobilized (even Star Tribune paper said if more were needed, it would be the first full mobilization of the Guard in Minnesota since World War II! – that certainly made me pause), and curfews were enforced from 8pm-6am in many areas in and around the city.
Race relations in my adopted country United States is often in shaky grounds… it’s even more pronounced in the events of police brutality towards black men and justice was not served properly (i.e. in the case of Philando Castile where the officer who shot him was acquitted) Now, I don’t want to get political or philosophical about this matter, but I’m offering a brief commentary here as a person of color living in America. Coming from Indonesia, a country that was colonized by the Dutch for over three centuries that left its dark legacy of colonialism, it’s hard to overlook the fact that racial prejudice and superior mentality do exist and passed down through generations. Even amongst the most well-meaning, progressive-minded people, many are still ignorant of the pain certain groups have endured for generations, myself included. Thus I do believe it’s important to empathize with people who come from different backgrounds, no matter what race, but especially those who are minorities and marginalized… as we are all human beings created in the image of God. What happened to Mr. Floyd is wrong and he and his family deserve justice.
Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook and I avoid being on social media for much of this weekend. But I did come across an article in the Star Tribune that’s eye-opening and heartbreaking… a violent demonstration happened in Minneapolis Field neighborhood in July, 1931, where thousands of white people protested against an African-American couple moving in to the all-white neighborhood.
“More than 3,000 persons assembled outside the home, occupied by A.A. Lee and his family, to hurl defiance at the police and openly threaten Lee and his friends.”
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about such blatant racism existed back then… but reading that still shocked me. It’s even more sad that this kind of systemic racism still goes on today and in many cities in America.
Another historical incident I did not know about was the Tulsa Massacre, which ironically happens exactly 99 years ago today as I’m writing this, May 31 of 1921. It lasted for 18 hours until June 1st, the following day, where 300 people, mostly blacks, were killed.
I only knew about this event when I saw the explosive opening scene of the first episode of HBO’s Watchmen. The clip on youtube was labeled as ‘riots’ but it was definitely more of a massacre by an angry white mob.
Per Indiewire, this incident highly influenced the series, as Watchmen‘s show runner Damon Lindelof was inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 article The Case for Reparations about the the Tulsa Massacre and destruction of the Greenwood District — aka “Black Wall Street,” the wealthiest black community in the U.S. at the time. I know many fans of the graphic novels are not keen on Lindelof’s reimagining of writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’s original creation, calling it ‘woke propaganda.’ I did not read the graphic novels, but I always think the story has always been political, even if the novel was perhaps more nuanced and complex than how the HBO show depicts it.
I’m actually glad when a movie/show gives me a brief history lesson so to speak, as I promptly googled the Tulsa massacre after watching it. Since I wasn’t raised here in the US and wasn’t taught American history in high school, I never knew this event ever took place. I thought initially this was a fictitious event in the show that depicts an alternate history. But as it turns out, many Americans didn’t know this was a real event, either. No wonder there was apparently a surge in Google search about that incident following the pilot.
Seeing so many tweets that #Watchmen was the first time they heard about Black Wall Street and had no idea that our opening depicted the Tulsa Massacre which had not been taught in US history classes made me want to post this post from The Post: https://t.co/jiLH9M4Wt6
According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, that event was marked as the single worst incident of racial violence in American history. This article in LA Times said attempts were made to cover up the events in the aftermath of the killings, and it took decades for historians and state officials to unearth the history. I think erasing history is just as atrocious as the actual historical event itself.
Now, I happen to think the show is outstanding in terms of its emotional quotient, acting (esp. Regina King‘s performance), production quality, and entertainment value. Hopefully one day I get a chance to do a proper post on it, but at the same time I feel ill-equipped to review the show. The racial issues depicted in the show seems so eerily similar to what’s going on in America today. In fact, having finished season one just days before Memorial weekend, that horrifying opening scene is still fresh in my mind.
So, back to the story about George Floyd, I sure hope this horrific incident would not become lost in the future like the Tulsa massacre. It’s heartbreaking that such a dark history was nearly obliterated… how can the new generation learn from past mistakes if they are shielded from the truth? Thankfully, it seems that the world has taken notice about this case, and street protests have spread globally to other parts of the world… London, Berlin and Toronto. In an usual move, even major Hollywood companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Warner Bros, HBO, etc. voice their support for Black Lives Matter movement using their corporate social media accounts.
Now, for those of you from out of state/country who are watching only the devastation and horrible things coming out of Minneapolis lately, I’d like to end this post with this FB post by a Minnesota filmmaker that highlights just what’s going on today…
The protests are still going on and the city is not quite out of the woods yet, but I love how the community comes together and show that they care for one another. My hubby and I dropped off supplies earlier today at a local Food Pantry an hour before the drop off location closed and there were lines of cars trying to donate as well.
My heart is still heavy over what’s happening this week, but I pray that Minneapolis and the surrounding community will see light at the end of this dark tunnel… for peace, reconciliation and harmony, no matter how insurmountable all those things seem to be right now.
For my friends in the Twin Cities, stay safe and be safe.