American Skin: Harsh Reality of Being Black in America

Nate Parker did it again. He wrote and directed yet another great film–American Skin. Like Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker premiered American Skin at a film festival in 2019 and it was released over the weekend on Apple TV.

This film portrayed the story of Lincoln Jefferson, a black man and father who was wrongly pulled over by the police with his son. The officer asked for his license, insurance and registration; asked if he lived in the neighborhood where he was coming from. The officer told Linc that his insurance was expired and proceeded to ask him if he was on parole or had any warrants–not relevant to him being pulled over but that’ll be addressed later. The officer asked him to get out the car and he complied. As he was doing so, his son Kajani was getting his phone out to start recording. The second officer felt threatened and told him to put his phone away and get out the car.. Kajani did get out the car but did not put his phone away. He proceeded to get out of the officer’s way and he was shot and killed in front of his father, Linc.

A little background information on Kajani, he was a non-troubled teenager. He started attending a better school due to his father getting them a pass due to him getting a job at the school. Kajani learns that you can resist arrest from police officer but what Linc had to teach him is that it only applied to people who aren’t black. Kajani didn’t understand but he heard his father .

A year later, a few college students hear about this story and decided to reach out to Linc to do a documentary. While they are following Linc and his family around, a verdict is finally reached and the officer is found not guilty and is able to return to work. Linc being a hurt father and a black man wants his pain to be felt amongst others, so he kidnaps the police captain of the department and rallies up some close family and friends to hold the police department hostage with workers and officers inside, including the one who killed his son.

Linc decided to hold a trial of his own by selecting the jury as inmates at the jail, which is a jury that doesn’t consist of “peers” like a normal trial would have, along with other non-officer hostages. The hostage officers watched the process and gave their input of what goes on situations like this, race and black people in general. The trial starts with officer Randall recalling the night of the murder. He states that he and his partner saw Linc’s car speeding down the street and that’s what prompted them to pull him and son over. Officer Randall says he didn’t clock them but he used to judgement to pull them over. While Linc was asked to get out the car, Kajani started recording the incident on his phone; Randall states that since Kajani didn’t stop recording, he pulled him out of the car and even was prompted to kill him.

The “trial” got intense when the officers started to talk freely about “getting the bad guys” and the statistics of black on black crimes being more crucial then black people getting killed by the police, which IS NOT relevant to the case. A police officer killed an unarmed teenager. PERIOD. Randall claims that if the insurance was not expired, then he would have let them go, but when Linc wanted to get an the updated insurance card from the glove compartment, Randall and his partner wouldn’t let him. After much antagonizing, Randall says he profiled Linc and Kajani because they were in a nice area with a beat up car. This is a normal act for officers–profiling.

The jury deliberated and found Officer Randall guilty of murder. Instead of being sentenced, Linc decided that the consequences would be shooting him. The room was in a frenzy as Linc aimed the gun at Randall, and when he pulled the trigger, no shot was let out. It was an experiment to show Randall what his life has been like since the killing of his son, waiting on a jury to determine Randall’s faith and just the overall anxiety of it. Luckily, all of this was still captured on film by the college students. Once it was done, Linc decided to let everyone go and even walk out with Randall.

While walking out, Randall announced that Linc was unarmed and to not shoot but the SWAT team decided to shoot him anyway. Partial moral of the story: being unarmed will still get you killed. Another unfortunate reality is the reports of situations like this. The news claimed that Linc had PTSD, dealing with Islamic extremists, and that he possibly committed suicide—then went on to a sports segment to talk about a black basketball player. There was no sensibility at all and it is the harsh reality of America, being American and having black American Skin.

What are your thought on the film??

Birth of a Nation Compared to Modern Day

I know I’m extremely late about this topic but I still feel the need to talk about it. The day that Birth of a Nation came out, I went and saw it. I just want to point out a few things that I saw.

First off, I like that the movie starts off with Nat Turner, a slave rebellion leader, learning how to read, especially the bible. When he grew up to teach it at other plantations, he noticed that the other slaves were getting mistreated terribly and also being taught the word of God..WRONG. That brings me my first point. People will tell and even teach you something wrong just because they don’t think you’ll research or look more into it. The slaves were being taught to obey their master because it was supposedly in the Bible, until Nat Turner came to them to preach the actual word of God. That showed me that when you start speaking truthfulness, people will try to shut you up and even kill you; which brings me to my next point.

img_3790
Photo credit: jet mag.com

Nat’s master was around his age and they somewhat grew up together until the little boy’s father passed away and made Nat go work in the cotton field. Since the two had known each other since they were kids, the master was a little more lenient on Nat, until he had something to prove to his fellow white owners that he can be aggressive.

When Nat went to the other plantations to preach, not only did he notice that they were being taught the wrong word of God but he saw how terrified and in bad shape the slaves were. It made him look as if he was being treated way better than them, even though he was still a slave. That’s another correlation to today’s society; just because you may not face adversity, abuse and discrimination, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t go own…like police brutality against black people.

This movie had quite a few comparisons to modern society like “Where’s your pass at, you don’t belong over here?” translating to black people getting pulled over by the police and getting asked  “where is your driver’s license [pass]? What are you doing in this neighborhood.” Another, when the slaves were fed up and wanted their freedom, equal to today’s society of US wanting to speak up and speak out about issues  like the police and even the government wanting to shut us up. As I said before, when you start speaking truthfulness (Nat’s preaching), people who are against will try to shut you up, an example is Dr. Sebi; the man who had cured AIDs and some forms of cancer and all of sudden he dies, but that’s another story.

When I was in elementary, middle and high school, I had never heard about Nat Turner. The only abolitionist that I heard of was Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. Maybe there were more but that’s all I REALLY remember. I wonder if I or many others didn’t learn about Nat because he rebelled against slave owners and the other abolitionists didn’t (that I know of).

Analyzing my childhhood learning, it seems that we, or maybe just the people in my class, didn’t learn about Nat Turner because the individuals in charge of the curriculum (board members or whatever) didn’t want to teach us that rebelling against higher authority, per se, we’re okay. BUT back then African Americans valued their freedom so much it was crucial for them to start fighting back, just like Nat and a few others during that century.

I find it extremely odd that this film flopped during the opening weekend. The film only grossed $7.1 million and came in 6th place with other competing movies. All in all, it’s still a good film to see, because of its comparison with modern society and I encourage people to go see it.

Features photo credit:thedailybeast.com