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A Call to Challenge Categorization (& tune in to When They See Us)

November 22nd, 2020 No comments

If you have not watched Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed production When They See Us, I would tune in now. This four-part series is centered around the Central Park jogger case from April 19, 1989. Five Black and Latino adolescents were wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was running in Central Park in New York City. The four parts present the experiences of the boys from before the accusation, to getting accused and deceived by the police, to the boys falsely confessing to the crimes, to the struggles they experience in prison, and to their eventual release from prison and their lives after prison. After I watched this series, I followed up on another production called Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us Now. In this show, Oprah Winfrey speaks with the Exonerated Five, Ava DuVernay, and the cast of the original series. This production allowed me to see how the nightmare of experiences faced by these five men affected their lives at the time of being wrongly accused and continue to haunt them to this day. When They See Us and the resulting panel with Oprah Winfrey are by far the best programs I have ever watched on Netflix, as the two productions profoundly opened my eyes to the racist practices of the criminal justice system and the dangers of stereotyping. If you haven’t already watched them, then I would definitely recommend.

Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Ava DuVernay, Antron McCray, and Yusef Salaam at the When They See Us premiere. www.chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2019/6/14/18679622/ava-duvernay-central-park-5-netflix-chicago-jon-burge

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