“Black, White & Blue,” an insightful and thorough examination of race in America, will have its world premier at the Charles H. Wright Museum on Feb. 2, and all signs point to the documentary ranking with the best and most comprehensive works on the subject of race relations in recent history. Not your garden variety documentary, the film features candid conversations with some of the most respected and controversial political commentators of our time, including nationally renowned academics, rappers, lawyers, social activists.
Of special note to Detroiters are weighty segments painting a picture of the state of race relations in Detroit (and Flint) as told by radio hostess Karen Dumas, evangelist Leslie Mathews of Michigan United and Senator Coleman A. Young discussing issues affecting the city’s majority-black residents. “Detroit is a preview of what awaits black America,” says the film’s executive producer, Curtis Scoon, adding, “It is also ground zero for where the fight to stem the tide begins.” Scoon credits the use of social media to galvanize the #Blacklivesmatter movement during the 2016 presidential election for providing the impetus to tackle a project to analyze the complexities and impact of social issues of grave concern to black — and white — Americans.
“I didn’t feel like what was being discussed [on that platform] really encapsulated the entire story … It was a one-dimensional narrative and as serious as police brutality is, there are other factors we need to look at that contribute to the issue,” explains Scoon. The shortcoming with other films of the genre has been the tendency to identify a one-size- fits-all solution to a complicated condition and hand the audience these pre-determined solutions neatly packaged and tied with a bow. But as the players involved with “Black, White & Blue” discovered more fully as the project evolved is that for the documentary to be a defining work it would have to take a Webster’s like-approach and offer a range of measures for defining the contributing factors racial violence and police brutality blazing across the nation. “The film begins with looking at race brutality because police brutality is a symptom of a greater sickness in society,” said Scoon, adding “It’s almost like a history lesson on the Reconstruction Era to the Trump presidency and what that has meant for black Americans.”
“Black, White & Blue” is a profound discourse on the diversity of opinions and beliefs Americans, in particular African Americans, hold. Scoon emphasizes that the film is a composition of assorted voices and views and does not promote any single set of solutions as the best course for redress to repair relations between the races or to promote any one approach to social healing as a permanent remedy. “Black, White & Blue” distinguishes itself among documentaries with its evenhanded handling of opposing voices and its relentless commitment to remain objective and unbiased on such a passionate subject matter. Among the film’s storied participants are: William Murphy Jr., Esq., a former judge in Baltimore; Lorenzo Dechalus, hip-hop artist and social commentator; Michael Dowd, a former NYC police officer; Toure Neblett, a much-recognized writer, political analyst and television personality; Michael (“Killermike”) Reader, an actor, rapper and social activist; Michael Eric Dyson, scholar, author and radio host; and James David Dickson, a reporter at the Detroit News.
The 76-minute independent film, which has not yet been rated, will be shown at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History. The screening is free and open to the public, but those interested in attending must register. A second screening is scheduled for Feb. 7 in the Washington, D.C. area. “Black, White & Blue” is the first full-length film by Curtis Scoon, a Washington, DC-based author, screenwriter and founder of Top of the Food Chain Films. The film’s director, Asia Norris, lives in Baltimore and is currently studying electronic media and film at Towson University. “Black White & Blue” is also her first full-length film.