The following review was written by Veronique Hester, a Chicago high school student, as part of Columbia College Chicago's Columbia Links journalism program for high school students and Chicago Urban League. RogerEbert.com has partnered with the Chicago Urban League and Columbia Links to mentor these students and to give them a platform for their writing. Read more about the program here.
"Afraid of Dark"
Directed by Mya B.
The film “Afraid of Dark” by May B. shows how white people view black men. The film seeks to explore why society is so afraid of dark, which represents black men. White people view black men as a threat to society and often times, their view is influenced by the notion that black men are aggressive and violent animals. The film also tries to explain black men’s journey into manhood through topics such as sexuality, responsibility and how they navigate life in general. Often times, the things that bring young boys into manhood are used against black men. The overall premise of the film is that white people are scared of black men because of their history of enslavement and all the experiences that followed them in America.
Personally, the film opened my eyes and made me realize how black men and black people are perceived in general. The film also stresses how raising African-American boys is a struggle. There are differences between children, especially young African-American boys who are raised by a single parent and those who are raised in a two parent household. Those differences cause positive or negative impacts on a child's life. Parents try to teach their children how to obey authority. But even then some white people still perceive some young black males as a threat.
Recently, there has been a trend of police brutality on black men. For instance, Eric Garner was put in an illegal choke hold by a white police officer in New York City even after saying "I can't breathe" eleven times. The police officers viewed Eric as a threat because he was outside selling loose cigarettes. Since Eric was a big person and a black man, they wrongly assumed that he was a bad guy. And then there are the stories of Trayvon Martin from Florida, Michael Brown from Missouri, John Crawford III from Ohio, Oscar Grant from California and 12-year-old Tamir Rice from Cleveland. All of the names that were just mentioned were African-American males who were murdered by people from a different race who were afraid of their dark skin.
Many of the events that took place back during slavery times are still being carried on in today's world. People have started being more creative with their prejudices but the fear of “dark” things, people and places is still very much real. White people have instilled the perception that black men are inferior to everyone else and these terrible thoughts cause stereotypical perceptions about black men. These perceptions have proven deathly in many cases, so many that there is not enough space to include all of the names. I am grateful for the opportunity that I received to view the film “Afraid of Dark” by Mya B., but more importantly to be offered the chance to be a part of the conversation surrounding society’s fear of the “dark.”