During these times of mandatory self-isolation, a lot of free time has opened up, and one way to take advantage is by watching good films, whether through broadcast television (TV UNAM, Canal Once) or YouTube, where one can find an infinite range of options. I recommend two splendid selections: the movie “Green Book” and the series “When They See Us.” Both are based upon real events.
The first tells the story of an African American piano virtuoso from the ’70s who takes a trip through the southern United States, giving concerts to conservative audiences. They are captivated by his musical dexterity, but deny him access to their cocktails and after parties.
His agents get him a white chauffeur who has a prejudiced attitude toward Blacks and Hispanics despite the fact that he is of Italian descent and resides in a cramped home in Brooklyn. Upon becoming unemployed, no choice remains for him but to drive the car with the artist seated in the back; entailing opening his door, carrying his bags and sleeping in second-rate hotels while his travel companion stays in the finest hotels.
The series “When They See Us” is available on Netflix. It opens in 1989, when a group of teenagers between 14 and 16 years old are accused and tried for the alleged rape and attempted murder of a young white woman who was exercising in New York’s Central Park.
In spite of their absolute innocence, they are brought to court to plead guilty after being coerced by the police, who extort and threaten their parents to prevent the parents from defending them. In spite of there being no evidence that they’ve committed the crime, they are sentenced to spend up to 13 years in the worst prisons of the United States. It’s a raw, heart-wrenching story that describes the brutal racism prevalent in our northern neighbor.
In this series, the producers take the liberty of presenting a scene where two of the teenagers’ mothers are watching the news about the trial when a commercial appears featuring the then real estate tycoon, Donald Trump, who paid $85 million to publish an ad in the press calling for the death of these adolescents.
Both stories are significant today.
With just a few months left before Americans go to the polls to decide who will be their president for the next four years, racial division lies beneath daily American life.
According to the most recent census surveys, African Americans represent 13.4% of all inhabitants in the U.S. today. Fifty-five percent of them are still living in the same Southern states as their ancestors did. In 2016, 26.6% were living in poverty compared to 12.4% of whites.
It’s important to remember that the right to vote was only awarded to them in 1965.* Their participation in elections has been scarce: In 2016, the total amount of registered voters was 231 million, of which 137 million voted. Only 12.5% were Black.
Surveys from the past few months give the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, a clear advantage over Trump. Nevertheless, everything points to the fact that in the next three months this difference could decrease to very little.
During functions the president has tried to ally himself with Black and Hispanic communities with a false discourse that denies his racist and discriminatory trajectory. He knows that their support will be necessary for his reelection. Let’s hope he’s wrong and will be forced to leave Washington, defeated by those whom he has so greatly offended.
*Editor’s note: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited discriminatory practices adopted in many Southern states to prevent Black people from voting, despite the guarantee of their right to vote in the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution, passed in 1870.
About this publication