“When the police want what they want, they will do anything,” were the words the father of a fifteen-year-old boy said to his son in fear, so he would confess to a rape and assault he did not commit.
“When They See Us” is a Netflix American drama miniseries created by Ava DuVernay exposing the negligent and criminal chaos of five teen males accused and convicted of crimes they did not commit.
When they saw these boys, it was instantly and arrogantly assumed they were all capable of a vicious and violent crime just because they were Black. The right to be treated as human beings, presumed innocent until found guilty was trashed.
The trials began in 1990, upon arrest the young males were manipulated, lied to and mentally tortured; pitted against one another to obtain false confessions and convictions of all five.
Age did not matter, a 14-year-old, played by Asante Blackk, who appeared not capable of busting a grape, was accused of partaking in the vicious rape. Most of the parents were helpless in ignorance of the judicial system and stood in shock watching it all play out before their eyes, depending on the system to do right by them.
One woman stood out though. A mother of 15-year-old Yusef Salaam played by Aunjanue Ellis. She was a force to be reckoned with, the only voice of reason and right. Portraying her role with such passion and conviction. Representing the importance of the Black female as a queen capable of standing strong on her own and defending her offspring.
The DA on the case Linda Fairstein portrayed by Felicity Huffman was stellar at her job as a cyclone monster with a one eyed racist and bitter view. Only seeing the victim as the “White one, the right one.”
We are considered the minority, disadvantaged as compared to the dominate social group. It’s high time we began thinking with a dominate mindset and level out the playing field. We ourselves look at the world and the people in it through a lens of color.
The lead attorney representing the boys was not of color, still he handled the case justly with the fallout looming, and the threat of loosing acceptance and approval of his own race. He made his case, but because his voice was for us. It was not heard.
The misrepresentation of the media is real, the misrepresentation of us as a people is a disgrace. If we don’t continue to educate ourselves and stand together, they will tear us apart. Police brutality and forced confessions have proven to be fatal in the lives of many.
When we see them, this is the reason we run or remain still and quiet, have little to no respect because they are a threat to our very existence. The most horrific part of the story is, this is not old news but currently still ongoing and happening to our youth, our people in our communities. Ignorance, fear, fueled by injustice and hatred cost these boys many years of having a normal life.
Let us learn from their trauma and fight, in hopes to save others, our sons and daughters from their plight.