The recent McKinney pool party incident, in which a white police officer physically and verbally abused several African American children, strikes close to home. My father works for this town, in the parks and recreation department. We were there just the other day, getting lunch. We went to choose a gift for my mother’s birthday. It rained, hard.
Never once did our waitress treat us less than kindly. Never once did the jewelry shopkeeper eye me as if I might steal something. And as my father, my brother, and I ran through the rain to get to the car, never once did we fear an officer might stop us, suspicious of our intent.
I can never understand what it is like to be Black in America, no less the American South. But I do understand that I can use my privilege to promote the voices of those who often go unheard.
This sort of racial injustice is not only endemic in the United States. While there are certainly differences between the situations of African Americans and Afro-French, their parallels remind me that this McKinney incident reflects a much greater, global strife for those of the African diaspora.
I hope that our documentary on the young Black women of the French banlieues (suburbs) can act as a platform for individuals of this demographic to speak out about the realities of their lives.
I’m wondering if this documentary can also act as a critical mirror, not only for French society but for Americans as well. Maybe because it is removed, because it is all taking place across the sea, Americans would be more inclined to look at the stories of these young women objectively, and without all their own cultural baggage.
And maybe that could inspire them to think about their own society, and question stigmas and entrenched beliefs about the Black communities of the US.
And maybe I’m being entirely too optimistic. But if we can raise at least a question, if we can make the foundation of racism and prejudice in our global culture tremble even slightly, I think we will have made progress.
“Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.” -Vernor Vinge