I watched 29 minutes and 13 seconds of the first part of Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us.” That was all my soul could bear. I could not watch it for the culture. I could not mentally and emotionally prepare myself to watch over 3 more hours of a story in which I knew the ending. I have read countless articles about this miscarriage of justice but I cannot bring myself to view the very real images that the words of these articles illustrated. I am aware that I can turn off my TV but Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise can not turn off the nightmare they endured, and my soul cries for them and the many others who go unseen.
I am forever grateful for the work of Ava DuVernay. This series was not meant to entertain but it was meant to tell a truth that many knew nothing about. I had the wonderful pleasure of working with black boys involved in the juvenile justice system. Boys who most of the world wouldn’t see as beautiful. Boys, who were in fact, boys. Boys living with parents with little money who worked long hours and wanted the best for their sons. Boys who spent a lot of time being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Boys who may not have done everything right, but were at risk of being wrongfully accused of crimes they knew nothing about. I’ve spent many hours in their homes with their families, watching them be boys while also watching as a system turned them into monsters and I felt powerless.
Don’t be so quick to write off people who choose not to watch “When They See Us.” There are people who refuse to acknowledge the reality those five boys faced. People who have not had to deal with the reality of the system not being built for brown and black people. But some of us are all too familiar. Some of us watched Ava DuVernay’s 13th. Some of us spent days grieving the loss of Kalief Browder as though he was our little brother. Some of us got to sit in holding rooms of detention centers with black boys we knew wouldn’t taste freedom for a long time. Some of us simply cannot. I am glad this series is reaching the masses and I pray the world really takes the time to truly see us.
…justice and liberty for all.
Proverbs 21: 3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.