Instead of Just Being Proud I Spent $ and Watched "Moonlight"

Image Source: Indie Wire

Image Source: Indie Wire

This year I told myself I'm going to support movies that reflect my culture. Every year I'm proud when a movie is directed by a person of color or there is a diverse cast is acknowledged but I didn't see it in the theater. Usually the subject matters of the critically acclaimed movies are really heavy and I feel like I don't need reminders of how my people suffered so I will watch at some point. But these stories are important to tell and now we are finally getting the budgets and support from the Hollywood community to release them. When Hidden Figures came out I cried because it was actually inspiring and uplifting without being religious. 

I kept hearing great things about Moonlight. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to cry. I mean, I cried watching Hidden Figures, so I knew I was going to be a mess seeing this. But I told myself to suck it up the movie needs your support. My husband joined me, I was surprised because he normally only sees comic book movies in the theater so this was a big change for him. The movie was beautiful and painful. I experienced some racism and bullying in school, at both a predominately black school and a predominately white school, but I was fortunate to not have the experiences portrayed in the film. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood but my grandparents lived in a working class neighborhood that declined in the 80s or 90s. I went elementary and junior high school in South Central and my grandfather picked me up from school and I would visit them on the weekends so I was probably more in South Central than anywhere else just because my parents worked so much. My grandfather had drug dealers as neighbors and I just knew them as Big So and So or whatever nick name they had. So I definitely could relate to the atmosphere of existing in this borderline dangerous environment. 

In high school and college I volunteered in inner city schools and the movie definitely shows a lot of the anger I've seen when visiting. I've seen the mocking in classes and knew of fellow volunteers who were on locked down because of fighting or gang activity inside the schools. I always worked the morning shift so I avoided the lockdowns. The only lockdowns I've experienced were lockdowns due to neighboring gang/police activity when I did site visits throughout my career. I know still not a great environment, especially for children. But I knew a lot of the students I worked for had these experiences in the film. There would be so much trauma in their home life they would suffer from PTSD yet the state will expect them to test at certain levels and be expected to have perfect attendance. So for some it's easier to turn to the streets rather than trying to meet the expectations of a system that is inherently against them. 

For me the movie was real life, as it is today. I hope this movie isn't lumped into other "black" movies about the past of what we overcame but gives a glimpse of the experiences of people today and to start the conversation on how to make change today.