So, the trailer for the upcoming Emmett Till movie is out, and—well—I just don’t think I’m ever going to be prepared to watch this film.
The movie Till is actually focused on the true story of Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and her dedication to receiving justice for her son. At the very least, that lessens the chance that audiences are going to be expected to watch a graphic depiction of Emmett’s brutal lynching at the hands of white monsters. The truth is, I’m hesitant to see Till for the same reason I never watched Ava DuVernay‘s Central Park Five docuseries: I just don’t like watching Black boys suffer.
Before we go any further, it’s worth mentioning that, if Black Twitter is any indication, most Black people are more than just anxious about seeing the film—they’d rather it simply not exist.
For the record, the film’s director, Nigerian filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu said in a recent interview that she has no intention of dramatizing the horrors of Emmett’s death.
“I don’t want to re-traumatize audiences or myself,” Chukwu said during a press conference, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“I knew that the way that I needed to tell this story was through the emotional journey of Mamie,” she continued. “We’ve got to keep it focused on Mamie and her relationship with Emmett. Once everybody was on board, I started a very intense research journey.” She also said the film does “not just show the inherent sadness and pain,” but also the “joy and love that is really at the root of the narrative.”
So, that’s comforting I suppose.
While I myself am apprehensive about seeing the movie, I gotta say, many of the negative Black Twitter reactions feel kind of knee-jerk. I understand the sentiment of Black folks being tired of Black trauma stories, but I also have to ask: How can our historical stories be told without the inclusion of white supremacy and white violence?
This isn’t to say that Blackness is defined solely by the racism and white violence we have endured, but racism and white violence are not things we can easily separate from our stories. Every step of Black progress has seen white supremacy as an adversary. And yet, Black history is American history and even the most violent and horrid aspects of American history are often depicted in novels, TV, and, of course, film.
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