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Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Kerry Washington ‘s Broadway play (“American Son”) on Netflix [it was adapted into a film.]   The film surrounds Kendra (Kerry Washington) and Scott Connor (Steve Pasquale) and their interracial mixed family.

The film almost instantly begins like an opening scene from pre-civil rights movement movie from the 60’s.  Connor ‘s blatant racism; downright distaste for other black kids, and even his own disenchantment of his own wife’s personal struggles as a black woman are without a doubt terrifying.  The film doesn’t move from the “Miami Police Department” station where it originally took place.

Warning: This film contains serious racial undertones that may upset viewers. The cop in this film is the cop of all cops that nobody ever wants to encounter.

As a friendly reminder, you are legally allowed to film a cop doing something illegal or acting in a way that law enforcement shouldn’t.  Jamal ‘s bumper sticker is a focal part of this film. Despite what police officers may tell you filming them is in no way against the law.

Spoilers ahead…

The film enacts itself exactly how you would imagine told from the perspective of Kendra and Scott — a couple deeply struggling with the identity in which Scott can’t seem to come to terms with his black wife and black son.   Dismissive; dominant, and ignorant to the  racial undertones of life that his wife and son face — Scott is gung-ho about their son attending military school.

The film surrounds the idea that a group of black teens were followed by police officers after unknowingly being seen purchasing a very small baggie of weed.  The film does not directly identify how much or whether or not it would’ve actually been considered illegal.  To save face and allow you to watch the film, I won’t actually say what happened to Jamal.

But that’s not what he wants.  Although Jamal is never pictured in the film — his character defines the very essence of the film.  His character embodies many of the fears that black people face in the modern world in which we live today, that, one wrong move at the wrong time in the face of a law enforcement officer often can lead to death.

Throughout the film, Kendra spends ample time trying to get it through to Scott that she and Jamal struggle in their lives because of things like encounters with police officers.  Alike modern-day, white people are often not subjected to the loud dominant put your hands on the wheel; don’t move, I am a police officer. 

There are moments in this film that seem so real that they inevitably do what they were intended to do, incite discussion and heartache among many viewers.   I thought this film did an excellent job of illustrating the psychological and emotional struggles that come with being in an interracial relationship — especially with someone who has no idea what it means to be essentially a walking target.

Kerry ‘s performance as Kendra is to say the least remarkable.  The personification of a concerned mother; a black mother who is terrified something has happened to her child, and a mother who will stop at nothing to defend the rights of her child holds strong throughout much of this film.

Rating: 3.5 stars


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