Gimme the Loot

I love slice of life films. So, my curiosity was peaked, after reading a review  for  Gimme the Loot.  It’s rare  that we get good black films these days, let alone about black teens. However, my eyebrows were raised after I watched the trailer). I wondered why so many young white women in a film about black teens. I researched the  writer-director Adam Leon, and turned out he’s a young white director. The film has also been endorsed/presented by Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme. It made more sense that two white male directors  would feel the need to incorporate whiteness into black folks lives. To be fair though, the young white women do serve a purpose for one scene in the film.

SPOILERS !!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!

The two young actors (Tashiana Washington (Sophia) and Ty Hickson (Malcolm) were amazing. They portrayed Bronx teens, pretty convincingly.  I am especially looking forward to more work from Ms. Washington. While her role was the cliché loud/foul mouth black girl, you understand why. As a young woman in the male dominated world of graffiti/taggers, she has to make folks take her seriously.  Actually, that might have made it a more complex film, looking at her life from the perspective as a young woman tagger.  There are a couple of sweet moments for Sophia, but overall, the character is the  standard sassy black girl. I also didn’t care for seeing the black female character lamenting about possibly not being seen as beautiful as the white female lead.

My other concern was that Sophia and Malcolm engage in a lot of criminal activity.   Okay, I’ll backtrack a bit. The storyline revolves around two best friends, Sophia and Malcolm, who are also graffiti artists.  They decide they want  to leave a mark on New York City (NYC), in a big way.  The two teens set their sights on tagging a big apple, that pops up, every time a home run is made at  Shea Stadium. In order to do this, Malcolm has arranged for them to pay $500 dollars to a security that works there, so they can get into the stadium. Of course, they are teens with limited funds, and need to get money anyway they can.  So, there is context to their criminality, but I still didn’t care for it. The first scene starts off with them stealing from a store and progressing to a potential robbery .

Currently, New York City has been under fire for its Stop & Frisk law.  The concern of racial profiling of black & brown folks, especially young folks, is very real. There have been several instances of unjust harassment of young people of color by the NYPD:

NYPD Commanding Officer Caught On Tape Ordering Cops To Stop And Frisk Young “Male Blacks 

How ‘Stop and Frisk’ Is Too Often a Sexual Assault by Cops on Teenagers in Targeted NYC Neighborhoods

I know it’s just a film, but it made me uneasy to see young folks of color casually stealing, robbing, and selling drugs. It’s not an image that needs to perpetuated, when there is so much intense racial profiling, in areas like the Bronx.  Leon does try to show the racial and class disparities in NYC, with Malcolm and the white female character, Ginnie (Zoe Lescaze ). It’s  during the scene with Malcolm, Ginnie, and her white girlfriends where you feel for Malcolm (and Sophia) and understand how their lives have been framed, so much differently from these  upper-class white girls.

I did enjoy watching the two charismatic teens zig-zag around their neighborhood. It was interesting to see all the many characters they interact with, during their harrowing weekend. The ending scene was also very heartwarming.  It will be interesting to see other folks of color thoughts on this film.

Advertisements

Charles Ramsey: ‘Take that reward and give it to’ the kidnap victims

Most folks have heard about the heroic efforts of Charles Ramsey. If not, here is a quick recap: 

On Tuesday, Mr. Ramsey  was eating at a McDonald’s in Cleveland, when he heard cries for help. When he went to investigate,  he noticed a young woman screaming for someone to call 911, and trying to kick down the door of her house.  It turned out the young woman was Amanda Berry. She had been kidnapped over ten years ago.  There  was also two other young women that had been held captive with Berry–Gina DeJesus & Michelle Knight. The young women suffered years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.  It was the speedy actions of Ramsey (he eventually kicked down the door), that helped save the lives of all three women.

Of course, Mr. Ramsey became an instant media sensation. He was just an everyday guy having lunch and got involved.  It was amazing, because there have been countless stories of folks that have literally stepped over a person dying on the sidewalk.  Mr. Ramsey obviously is an old school guy, and presented himself as such. His words “I knew something was wrong when a pretty little white girl ran into a black man’s arms,” is going down as the soundbite of 2013, trust me. There have been several articles written about Mr. Ramsey’s lively personality, and how it came across on the national news :

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/05/07/181982154/are-we-laughing-with-charles-ramsey

http://guyism.com/humor/charles-ramsey-rescues-three-women-gives-greatest-interview-in-the-history-of-television.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/05/07/charles_ramsey_amanda_berry_rescuer_becomes_internet_meme_video.html

Some folks thought Mr. Ramsey’s heroic efforts were being mocked, because of his quirky personality. I have to admit, I chuckled when I heard Mr. Ramsey say what he said. I thought he was being raw and honest, and I got what he was saying.  I wasn’t laughing at him at all. I am a black woman who comes from a black family sprinkled with Charles Ramseys. Like Ms. Sweet Brown before him,  they represent themselves as they are, because they are not ashamed of who they are. Why should they be? They should not be defined by their dialect or that they have a head-wrap on their head or that they don’t give bland responses.  Of course, there are those that are going to run with these images  (memes). However, from what I can tell on the (black) blogs, black folks have much respect for  Mr. Ramsey, and nodded their heads knowingly at his words.

I wish Mr. Ramsey well…