The following review was written by Jamarcus Walker, 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 documentary “Afraid of Dark” by May B. is an inspiring film. The film has many different points or topics that are all really important. The film speaks on the theory of the African-American male, the stereotypes and myths that are placed on us, the redefining perspectives on our culture and fear that has been displayed through the eyes of our white counterparts, and the setting of standards that we are set to live up to.
When I first heard the title of the film, it took me to the mind of a child, one around the ages of 2-7 and in some cases older. Why would a child be afraid of the dark? It’s the fear of being left in the dark where there is no light; nothing to see but pure darkness. “They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister.," says Dr. King Jr.
The film opens with the skyline of Chicago at night. Then the film makes its way to the streets of New York. It starts with the the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the depiction that all men are violent, and elaborates on the sense that African-American males are doomed to an early death. One part that stands out was how they showed the white man’s religious views on evolution and its impact on perception of black males.
The film goes on to talk about the stereotypes that are displayed that black men were considered lazy, a reckless class. Add this to the fact that if any African-American males were of wealth and success, then they had to have sold out their own race to fit in with the corporate and professional status.
The film shows so much perceived about the black male that is not always true. The film gives the inside view of the violence and how we are seen as wild dogs and how the white man must put us down.
Director Mya B. then moves on to discuss the new Jim Crow laws, the justice system and how the black male population is the vast majority of the percentage of inmates in the prisons. From that I took that just like the fear of black men with power and rights in the 1960s is how they see us today. One mindset they have is that we are not able to comprehend and live in a peaceful society.
However, I couldn’t let it only be that white men are afraid of dark because in the documentary, I saw something that was life-changing. A picture of someone I knew, and growing up, you always hear the phrase "it's okay until it happens to someone you love." The hip-hop age of music has influenced so much hatred and violence because everyone wanted it; from the sexual idea of black men to the horrible wave of sagging.
In conclusion, “Afraid of Dark” spoke to me in many different ways: the theory of the African American male; the stereotypes and myths that are placed on us; the redefining perspectives on our culture and fear that has been displayed through the eyes of our white counterparts; the setting of standards that we are set to live up to; and the interesting issues of relationships. Though all of this had my heart melting and my mind blown, it showed me that the fear is still here and that it must motivate us to continue striving for greatness to break the stereotypes and continue to improve with the generations to come.