Black Resistance Screening List: “Shoot The Messenger”

Still from "Shoot The Messenger" Film. Photo Courtesy of BBC

Watch “Shoot The Messenger” Film

Shoot the Messenger is a BBC film written by Sharon Foster and directed by Ngozi Onwurah. The film aired in 2006, receiving a mixed reception. The film is an extremely provocative story that follows a young Black man in his own experience with racial self-hatred. It is clear that the filmmakers consider negative stereotypes a realistic hurdle to be crossed and shamelessly embrace them. However, if the satirically negative outlook of the film can be tolerated, there may be some worthwhile messages to absorb, including an analysis of the prison system in the U.K. and its treatment of Black citizens.

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The Color of Crime

George Zimmerman. Image Courtesy of The Washington Post

George Zimmerman. Image Courtesy of The Washington Post

One breezy evening last October, I celebrated my one month anniversary of living in New York City with a lovely dinner with friends and by getting mugged on my way home. I didn’t make it very hard for the perpetrator, practically handing my wallet and iPhone to him as I descended the steps into the subway entrance. All in all, it was a relatively painless mugging; I wasn’t hurt, everything he took could be replaced, I immediately canceled my credit and ATM cards and wasn’t held responsible for the $400 charged at Kennedy Pizza and Chicken. As I communicated with family and friends in the days following the attack, the second question they asked, after “Are you okay?!” was inevitably, “Was he Black?”

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The House I Live In

Image courtesy of thehouseIlivein.org

Image courtesy of thehouseIlivein.org

According to the Oxford Dictionary, cognitive dissonance is the “state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, especially related to behavioral decisions and attitude change.” It occurs on a number of levels, both individually and societally. Social worker and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary says that one example of this phenomenon in the United States is how society has attempted to reconcile its ideals of equality and justice with its harsh, dehumanizing treatment of people of color.

Watching Eugene Jarecki’s honest and personal documentary The House I Live In, a 2012 film that chronicles the U.S.’s “War on Drugs,” brought to mind this concept. In the movie, historian and professor Richard Lawrence Miller ties the history of drug laws to racist attempts by White elites to reduce the number of people of color represented in different regional workforces because of a perceived threat to White job security. Given this information, why hasn’t the U.S. government reevaluated its entire criminal justice system? Racially based discrimination is imbedded in drug laws. Anti-opium, anti-marijuana and anti-cocaine laws were all targeted at punishing and excluding people of Chinese, Mexican and African descent, respectively. This history should warrant a wholesale restructuring of U.S. institutions and a deliberate effort to undue entrenched racism.

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