By/Por Juan Rodríguez Flores, Executive Editor LWR
The scourge of racial inequality in America has become more visible than in any period since the Civil Rights Movement five decades ago. This enhanced public awareness is largely the product of a new movement of concerned and exasperated Americans known as Black Lives Matter, and the attention they’ve shed on the insidious racial divides which continue to drive poverty, incarceration rates and social injustice. The new documentary #BlackLivesMatter, (one of the most popular Twitter hashtags of 2015) energetically produced by ABC, explores the origins of this influential movement and profiles many of its members who protest for profound change.
The film begins in Baltimore, a city burdened by a lack of opportunity and support for the poor. Over 1/3 of black men from the area will spend some portion of their lives in the penal system. The poorest neighborhoods are in despair, and it falls on the shoulders of volunteer community organizers to try to create a better reality in these sections of their beloved city. Hundreds of properties are shuttered and listed as uninhabitable while homelessness continues to ravage the streets. Residents view law enforcement as an oppressive force rather than a supportive one.
To a large extent, Americans had remained unaware of the plight currently seizing one of their largest cities. That was until May of 2015 when Freddie Gray was detained and brutalized by police officers in plain view, and died shortly thereafter from severe spinal injuries attained during his arrest. Thanks to the accessibility of amateur video, incidents like this and many others have seared the public consciousness, and intensified the rallying cry for change. The organizing principle behind that cry is the Black Lives Matter movement.
With great urgency and sensitivity, #BlackLivesMatter examines this epidemic from its roots and finds a corrupt system that refuses to correct itself without the proper motivation from the outside. This motivation has come from the Black Lives Matter movement, and all Americans who work to turn their grief into positive action. From the murder of Treyvon Martin in Florida to the shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, all Americans have been forced to recognize this deep-seated cancer which continues to exist in the marrow of the nation. The film shows that real change has only been made possible by the efforts of everyday citizens who exert peaceful and persuasive pressure on those in power.