While Just Mercy and the characters in it are an artistic take, the film is based upon real people and its story can be multiplied thousands of times over. Its stars are Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, both rendering phenomenal performances; in fact, all of the performances in this movie are exceptional. I hope the movie will have great success, (it is to be released nationwide on December 25, 2019), because the people in it deserve to be recognized.
Based on a memoir of the same name written by Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy is centered around the main character, Stevenson, a black Harvard trained attorney played by Michael B. Jordan, who made it his mission in life to help those who needed legal help the most, death row inmates. As a black person who is well aware of the disparities and inequalities in our so called “justice” system, this movie was a hard watch emotionally. If you are black, be prepared to feel multiple moments of rage. To those who may be vulnerable to racism triggers, the movie contains many. I warn all those who may be vulnerable to these triggers to fortify your emotional capacity as much as possible before viewing the film.
However, this movie and similar movies being released lately which give an accurate portrayal of the black experience in this country are much needed and welcomed because they are not being made for us, they are being made for white people. I say this because while black people have discussed our experiences in this culture multiple times over, we are often still met with resistance as to the veracity of our descriptions when exposing these experiences.
This movie and the others like them are putting the stories of how black people are treated in this country right out in the open so that white people and others can no longer keep their heads in the sand about racism. Racism is real. The “justice” system is purposely rigged against black people. And, while this is an artistic take, it’s an accurate one. Just Mercy will take you on an emotional roller coaster similar to what black people experience daily just by living.
The movie accurately portrays something that we rarely have an opportunity to witness in real life. It humanizes black men in this country, men who have been unfairly targeted by racist white men and the system they have controlled for centuries, the courts. It shows the monsters for who they truly are, and the power they wield over black people and poor white people, these marginalized groups that structural racism was created to control and is still controlling as pertaining to poor whites.
I truly enjoyed that this movie contains no “white savior” narrative. The white savior narrative has forever made it seem that black people have only progressed from slavery in this country because some “good” white people decided to help the “poor” black people. This lie is so deeply embedded in our culture that it is reflected in movie after movie. To see a movie that is not centered around some white person fighting to humanize us is not only refreshing, it’s accurate. The truth is if black people had waited on white people to free us from slavery, we would still be enslaved.
Black people have fought against and resisted the injustices against us and others in this country. We were freed not because some white people grew a conscience; we were freed because we fought for freedom ourselves. Progress was and is being made because we make it happen, not because a compassionate white person granted it to us. This story is one of many in this country that needs to be told. Just Mercy shows a fuller, more accurate picture of who we are. And, I truly appreciate it.
This is an excellent movie. Everyone, grab a date (or your family!) this holiday season and go see it!
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