The old adage – “the more things change…the more they stay the same” have never been more true than during the 21st century. Living in a time when people of color are being knocked off like a mob hit has sadly become a reality. A reality that beyond the onset of the Civil Rights movement, we thought our quality of life had improved and a sector of society was well on their way to becoming equals in America. We indeed believed that a change had come.
However, in the summer of 1967, riots popped of in Detroit, Michigan making it one of the most violent uprisings of the 20th century. Rioting may seem like unfiltered behavior without reasoning, however this one came as an immediate response to police brutality, unfair conditions around segregated housing, schools and rising black unemployment.
Meanwhile, over at The Algiers Motel, racial injustice of epic proportions were kicking off between some hotel patrons and the police. An injustice game of cat and mouse that left three black men murdered for no reason other than the color of their skin.
As a woman and a person of color, I would be lying if I said this film wasn’t hard to watch. It made my heart hurt. It made me angry and it made me ponder why a change truly hasn’t come for me and my people. If that’s how I feel, I can only imagine what the young people who experienced this travesty in 1967 must be living with on a daily basis.
Detroit is told through the lens of former Dramatics singer Larry Reed (Algee Smith).
July 25th, 1967 The Dramatics were to make their big stage debut, that was unfortunately cut short due to Heartbreaking for Reed an in an attempt to ride out the violence erupting on the streets, he and his friend rolled over to the Algiers Motel. Little did they know that it would be the first o many nights they nor America would soon forget leaving yet another blood-stained blemish in American history.
Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow has never been one to shy away from controversial, uncomfortable material and this film is no different. Her cinematic choreography illustrating this chaos matched with a wonderfully gifted and expressive ensemble of actors including John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith and Jason Mitchell, keep your attention locked and loaded into the fear and aggression unfolding this multi-day terror on humanity from the boys in blue. As the officer who instigates these unfortunate events, Will Poulter as Philllip Krauss will surely be in the awards contender conversation as we move forward toward awards season. Poulter is so convincing that you forget you are watching an actor simply turning in a brilliant, chilling performance.
Detroit raises the hair on your neck not only racial injustice, but sexism, physical abuse, the smug, glib attitude that police officers have when they feel “threatened” by “unarmed” individuals and the lengths one will go through to place guilt on the innocent without regard for consequences.
As recent as Philando Castille, police officers were once again found not guilty for blatantly snuffing out a life. What is the difference between 1967 and 2017 other than 50 years? Ponder that one for a second.
Let me be clear, Detroit is more than a movie about riots and police. It’s about how America and its citizens have somehow learned to live with the new normal of violence against humanity. Black Lives Matter is a crucial movement in these unsettling times and hopefully will assist in making strides for the next 50 years. A change hasn’t come yet…but it will if we continue to stay vigilant in sharing these stories to make sure no one ever forgets.