#BlackLivesMatter, What Can I Do? - First Time Watch: Blindspotting
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
When I started this series, I wanted to try and relate my new watches to the latest news and relate it to said things. In the past week or so, the news has been dominated by the atrocious treatment of Black people in America and how it is something that must come to an end. Due to this, I wasn't sure on whether to write a post for this week, as it may not seem right to do so. However, it's been made abundantly clear that we all need to use our platforms in any way to showcase our outrage at the treatment and our support for many others. So before I get to my usual review, I feel its right to address the recent events.
The murder of George Floyd by the hands of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who knelt aggressively on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This came after Floyd was falsely accused of forging a check, but clearly, due to racial profiling, this officer decided immediately that he was guilty and took unnecessary action. This action sadly took the life of Floyd, a father of two and a good innocent man.
As Chauvin knelt on Floyd, you can clearly hear a man fighting for his life. "I can't breathe", those three words have struck deep into many, the words Floyd pleaded in an attempt to save his life. The officer did not let up, even after Floyd became unconscious for around 3 minutes.
This is an absolutely sickening act, and sadly, is one that many Black people can relate to and have stories similar to. Stereotyping and racial profiling has caused mass devastation to many families all over the world. This issue isn't just an American thing, it's here in my home nation Scotland, the rest of the U.K. and the world as a whole. It's an absolute disgrace that many are unable to simply go to a grocer or walk down a street without risking their lives. That was the reality for George Floyd. This was also the reality for Ahmaud Arbrery, a 25-year-old electrician who simply wanted to go on a recreational jog. This was also the case for 26-year-old Black Police Officer Breonna Taylor, who was simply at her home.
On February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbrey was murdered by Gregory and Travis McMichael whilst on a jog near his own home, as they thought he had stolen something. Arbrery was unarmed, yet these two disgusting cowards took action and his life away. It took 74 days for these men to be arrested with the Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill advising the local Police to not make any arrests. A clear injustice, abuse of power and example of privilege.
On March 13th, Breonna Taylor was shot eight times in her own home after a "no-knock warrant" and a search for drugs went wrong. No drugs were found but another innocent life was taken. The police suspected drugs were in this home due to Taylor's past relations with a man the police held in custody. Instead of peacefully checking, the police went in, all guns blazing, taking the life of Taylor. The investigation for this case is incomplete.
These three sickening incidents happened only three months apart. And are only three of hundreds of examples.
Breonna Taylor (L), George Floyd (C), Ahmaud Arbrery (R)
I can't fathom how you can set out on one of these trips, and be targeted in such a sickening way. The fact that I am able to do such things with ease and no worry is undoubtedly a privilege. Never mind going outside, in Breonna Taylor's case, she couldn't even enjoy the comforts of her own home. There's a freedom we as white people have that is undeniable. Perhaps in Scotland, it's less recognisable due to the small population and percentage of said demographic, but it is definitely apparent in our system. Everyone has the right to feel safe and clearly, we're not properly enforcing this.
This is not to say that every white person is racist or has partaken in racist attacks or anything this severe. But it has to be acknowledged that we have a massive privilege in our lives due to the colour of our skin, with these recent actions showcasing it so purely.
As America entered lockdown, we all laughed and mocked images of infuriated white people protesting, stating infringements on their freedom. Many marched with weapons, devastating firearms that made them look more like Call of Duty characters than peaceful protesters. These people, were free to do as they pleased, even being deemed as good people by President Donald Trump. Of course, the police never came to altercations with these people carrying such devastating arsenals.
Move forward a few weeks, the fallout of George Floyd and with that, many protests ensued over America. Thousands gathered with signs of hope, support and calls for those to be punished adequately. What were they met with? The complete opposite to the aforementioned "freedom fighters". What did Donald Trump call these folks? Thugs.
This is a clear double standard and is being supported publicly from the very top. There is very clearly a long way for us to go in the search for true equality. And every one of us can make a difference, in a number of ways.
Many will be thinking to themselves "what can we do?" and there's a number of things that can be done to help try and make a change for the difference. The first main thing is obviously not tolerating any sort of racial abuse in any regards. I don't care if it's your best friend of 15 years making remarks in a group chat, don't tolerate the abuse. There are many issues similar to this that get rubbed off as "we're just having a laugh" or "lighten up". This isn't good enough anymore as it all powers to societal problems. If this is the only way you feel you can make jokes, then sadly you probably aren't that funny to begin with. As well as this, if you are the particular person in question, truly learn from your mistakes and see that what has been said is wrong and make the change. Here in Scotland, derogatory terms such as 'Chinky' and 'Paki Shop' are still used and have been used for decades. You may not think it's bad due to how seemingly normalised it is but it really is offensive as a slur. We can all do better and getting rid of this vile language is an easy way to go about it. It's never too late to change. Of course, there is a lot more beyond this, with the tweet below showing great resources of where you can learn more.
Regarding the recent events, there are many ways to help out, even if you feel it is far from you. Write to your local MPs if you are in Britain and let your representatives know that you are unhappy with the treatment. The U.K. helps supply gear such as rubber bullets, riot shields and tear gas that are being used to target innocent protesters. If the U.K. wants to be serious about making a change, they cannot support attacks like these. With enough complaints and MPs being overwhelmed with complaints about this matter, they'll have no choice but to discuss it.
Alongside this, it is a well-known fact that the U.K. has the second most deaths in total for the Coronavirus. One of the most affected demographics is People of Colour. Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are more likely to be affected by this virus and a recent study went into finding out why. Problem is, this vital information has been delayed and kept away from those who need it. In the middle of a pandemic, the government is withholding information that can save lives. This is totally unacceptable and we must pressure our MPs and the government in order to save lives.
Also, as constituents, a condemnation of Donald Trump and the way that he has treated those he rules over. If the country does not condemn him, they are supporting him through fear and are disgracing our countries. If they believe that these actions are okay, who says they won't do the same to us?
Go to writetothem.com to find out who you can write do and plead to them about the previous issues. Fill up their boxes with these issues and make your voices heard. Demand justice and be a part of the change in your community. This is a small step but one that would help those closest to you.
One thing you can look out for is seeing what establishments local to you are either exploiting these issues or are celebrating those in the past. Where I'm from in Scotland, it has recently become known to me that a local celebration known as a Galaday is celebrated in the name of a former slave owner and trafficker. You can still celebrate your community, but don't celebrate the name of those who have sent civil rights back hundreds of years. This kind of change shows an acknowledgement for what is wrong and the action to do something about it. It doesn't matter if it is a tradition, it is still wrong and should be abolished. Many areas may have similar things and I urge you to seek these out and try help make the necessary changes.
Regarding our local establishments, we need to shape up how we engage with Media. For far too long, certain outlets have been allowed to print hatred against minorities and continue this agenda against BAME. Need just to take a look at the headlines below. We need to stand up and stop engaging with these rags.
British history has somewhat covered up a lot of the atrocities they committed during the slave trade. It is a massive missing chunk from the school curriculum and something many of us won't know an awful lot about. This isn't too late to change, however, as we can always further educate ourselves on these issues and look at how injustices are still prevalent here. It's easy to look at America and say that we aren't as bad as them, but we shouldn't be looking at it that way. We can make a tremendous change here that would better everyone.
As for helping overseas right now, there are many things that can be done. There are hundreds of petitions going around for many issues around the US. By going to www.itsnicethat.com or blacklivesmatters.carrd.co in order to see a list of petitions within America right now that you easily sign quickly. There are hundreds of these and would help make a difference if you can sacrifice even ten minutes of your day. These two great sites are full of resources and information with many ways to how we can help out, despite how minimal it may seem.
These websites also have information on where you can donate money to, whether it be charities, to the victims family, black-led organisations and many more. Take a look through the different options and if you can, please donate. Even a small sum can help out a lot of great causes. I chose to support the Minnesota Freedom Fund (https://minnesotafreedomfund.org), who helps those unfairly imprisoned due to protests and can't afford to pay bail money to be released. It's a great cause that will restore many rightfully back home after standing up to injustice. As I said, have a look through and see what you would like to specifically support and please donate.
We need to listen to those affected and see firsthand how we can help out. Listen to what issues there are and what things we can change. We can't just act like its not our problem cause of previous generations doings, we need to be the one to fix it. It'll be very enlightening for us all and will help understand one another better. Engage with people of colour, support their work, listen to their stories. Even by supporting black filmmakers or musicians, you are helping support a community and a movement. Opening our horizons in this way will open us up to a lot more quality and unique styles with music and stories that are engaging, entertaining and important.
Plot synopsis: Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his Oakland, Calif., neighbourhood. His bond with his volatile best friend soon gets tested when Collin sees a police officer shoot a suspect in the back during a chase through the streets. Things soon come to a head when the buddies attend a party at the upscale home of a young and wealthy tech entrepreneur.
"Life imitates art more than art imitates life" Oscar Wilde (1891)
A man on a harmless jog. Racial Profiling. Double Standards. Police brutality. A harmful culture hurting a nation from the inside. A 26-year-old victim. "I can't breathe".
This one was scarily too similar to the recent events these past months. It's as if these similar events happen so often.
'Blindspotting' simply put, is the film the whole word oughta be watching right now. Focussing on many issues regarding race, the film is oh so important with its representation of blacks in these communities. Set in Oakland, California, a diverse hot spot, we follow Collin, an ex-inmate serving the last three days of his probation. With this setup, we follow him through three days where he tries his best to stay out of trouble, but his peers, locals and city have other plans. Straight away, we see a man trying to make his way in life, staying out of trouble, wanting to make an honest living and better himself. The only issue is, that because of his skin colour, each action is under a microscope, no matter how innocent. Collin is Ahmaud Arbrery. Collin is George Floyd. Collin is many more victims.
The film does not hold back in showcasing the extent and brutal nature of these attacks, with haunting imagery from the start prevalent right through to the end. There are two particular scenes that will ring true and stay with me for a long time, drawing great emotion and shock.
The term 'Blindspotting' used for the title is defined as 'an image that can be interpreted in two ways, but you only see one at a time'. This perfectly sums up the police brutality in America, the officers see a black man and there's a feeling of being threatened. They consider nothing else, not what he does, who he is or what he has. That's a pretty big blind spot to be leaving, but it is what happens, and sadly, isn't restricted to police officers.
Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs both star and co-wrote the film, having grown up in Berkeley and Oakland respectively. The duo felt that the San Francisco Bay Area was lacking representation of the culture and community of the area. And with the recent news, this aspect of the film really struck hard. It is a delightful representation, full of personality and good spirits. This culture and people is something I haven't really seen represented that much and it was a total delight. And these are the exact communities right now being torn apart and destroyed by these actions. This vibrant community with a distinct voice and personality are the ones being affected most by these atrocities.
This only vocalises the point of how representation is needed majorly within film. This is a place thousands of miles from me but through the media, we can properly engage with and see these issues and what devastations they are causing to the people, from the people who live there. These recent actions more than mirror the messages of this film, showing we need to listen and let their voices be heard, even by simply supporting their films.
Not only is the setting full of character, but its two lead stars are tremendous in their roles. You can really see the passion and care that went into this project from two people who really get it. From the incidents and the characters we meet to the way they communicate with one another. It is exceptionally written performed to the highest level. The duo's chemistry shines throughout the film, leading to charming small interactions, as well blowouts that hit every emotional level.
An important film for everyone to see as well as entertaining and tense, 'Blindspotting' hits the perfect balance. It's emotional, raw and the perfect film for this current climate as it works closely with the issues that we are seeing broadcasted so much. I implore everyone to seek this film out right now, it is available on Netflix and is only 96 minutes long. Those 96 minutes are packed with creativity as well as important commentary in one of the most valuable watches I've had in a long time.
Final Rating 5/5
There's a long way to go and changes need to be made and it won't be a quick change. We need to work together to provide solutions and improve ourselves every day. Continue to educate yourself, participate in causes, share and sign petitions, donate if you can. Say the names of the victims and stand up to injustice. This should've been dealt with a long time ago and we can only apologise, hope for forgiveness and create solutions to fix these issues. We all have an important role to play, so make sure you are doing your bit. Black Lives Matter.