Dear Non-Black Friend: 7 Things Your Black Friend Wants You To Know

Dear Non-Black Friend: 7 Things Your Black Friend Wants You To Know

This month black people cried, screamed, rioted, and fumed because we saw Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd murdered in front of our very eyes. We noticed that many of our non-black friends were quiet. Black people were outraged with Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York’s Central Park, who weaponized her whiteness. She called the police on a black man for telling her to leash her dog. She lied and that untruth could have cost a black man his life. It didn’t matter. She lied anyway. We saw many of our non-black friends simply shrug.  

Though you may not see it, every time a black person is senselessly murdered, it becomes a sort of black communal pain. Black people are so used to it, we think, “here we go again,” but we want our white friends, co-workers, neighbors, and associates to share our outrage. We’re human after all. 

This is an awkward conversation…

This is an awkward conversation to have with you, but one that is long past due. If you are truly my friend… If you value my work and contributions to the workplace… If you appreciate the way I am neighborly, then you will accept this essay as intended. Your assistance is needed to stop the senseless killing of black people. I haven’t been able to tell you before, but I must tell you now. These are the 7 things, me, your black friend, want you to know about my life. 

1. Dear Non-Black Friend, I need you to know that I’m tired of people who share my skin tone being killed for nothing more than sheer racism. I need you to use your privilege to stop these killings. Get people fired. Do whatever it takes to let your people know that this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable. You can pull some rugs. Pull them.

2. Dear Non-Black Friend, please realize that blacks and whites are often treated differently by police officers and it’s not always the fault of the black person. Though we know all cops aren’t racist, some of them are and we have video evidence. Denying what is clearly on video is hurtful and despicable. I don’t want you to deny what I’m seeing. I want you to see it with me and feel the pain.

3. Dear Non-Black Friend, the black people who didn’t have weapons, who were shot in the back, who were choked to death were just like me. They were living their day to day lives. Like me, they wanted to go home to their families at the end of the day. It’s a mistake thinking all unarmed black people killed by police were all criminals. They weren’t. Most of them were regular people. Just. Like. Me

4. Dear Non-Black Friend, you know how you can go outside and walk by the police and not worry that you’re going to be killed? I can’t do that. My family members can’t do that. We can’t do that because members of your community think people in my community are less than human. At your dinner table, I need you to remind them—hell, force them —to understand  that black people are human. Black people are in fact, people.

I didn’t pull out a knife or a gun… I didn’t choke you.

5. Dear Non-Black Friend, remember when we met? I didn’t do anything hateful toward you. I didn’t pull out a knife or a gun. I didn’t choke you. I didn’t do these things because most black folks like me don’t carry weapons. And yet, some of us have been shot in broad daylight as if we do. We don’t. I need you to remember this and for you to tell your people. Most black people are not carrying weapons, nor do they have a desire to stab, maim, wound and kill people. 

6. Dear Non-Black Friend, the next time you see a video of a black unarmed person being killed, I want you to think that its me. I want you to be so hurt and outraged that you do something. Be angry enough to call your congressman, the governor and all the other white people you know and start a tsunami of outrage that makes your people stop killing. I want you to care. I need you to care and take action. 

7. Dear Non-Black Friend, I don’t wanna hear excuses for when your people kill my people when it was clearly senseless violence prompted by racism. You never have to worry about a white man not returning home after a traffic stop or a misunderstanding with police. For black people, I worry about that every day. But, when I hear the rationalizing of an unarmed black woman or black man being killed by police or racist vigilantes, it tells me that you don’t see my humanity and that you are not truly my friend. 

Writing this essay to you brought tears to my eyes because I consider us friends. But after you read this, I’ll know for sure. 

The murders of both Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd inspired this essay. But we also remember Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and many others. May everyone get home safely today and always.

In My View: Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder by Byron Hurt

In My View: Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder by Byron Hurt

I just finished watching a NY Times investigation video detailing the final minutes of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. It broke down the chase, minute by minute, based on surveillance video. The video deconstructed what likely happened just prior to the attack, and showed how it ended for Arbery.

Out of respect for Arbery’s life, I won’t repost it because it shows the two murderers shooting and killing him. As most of you who have seen it know, it is horrific, terrifying, triggering, and angering. The young brotha was out for a jog, something that many of us black men who are fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, and sons do. I will say this. The two white men who shot Ahmaud Arbery did so operating on their basest, racist stereotypes of black men — the idea that black men are inherently dangerous and criminal. Nothing new. This is an old black male trope.

Ahmaud’s only crime was that he was a black man.

It has been reported that there have been recent burglaries in the Brunswick neighborhood. If there had been, in the eyes of the white men who called 911, Ahmaud’s only crime was that he was a black man. The problem is, being a black man is not a crime. Arbery is seen on video walking around a construction site, as others, black and non black had done. But he stole nothing.

Ahmaud Arbery had been so dehumanized by the two white men who followed and killed him, that they likely could not distinguish one black man jogging through their neighborhood from the next. This is the problem with white racism and racial stereotyping. Combine that with the kind of dehumanization that also took place on that Brunswick street — the literal stripping of Arbery’s humanness — that you get two white men jumping in a pickup truck out on a mission to hunt down a black man as if they were hunting deer.

I am mad, sad, and at this point, doubtful that justice equal to the crime committed will be done.

I have no purpose of writing this other than to clear my mind and express my thoughts after watching that NY Times piece. I also need express my feelings about it. I am mad, sad, and, at this point, doubtful that justice equal to the crime committed will be done. I also have this overwhelmingly powerful desire to protect myself, and my people from these kind of brutal, unjustified attacks. We black people cannot be out here getting hunted down like animals. White people need to know they cannot do this to us without repercussions or harsh punishment.

I can only imaging that these two men bet on their whiteness that they’d get away with killing a black man if they said they felt threatened by him. These “Stand Your Ground” laws essentially exist to protect white people who kill black people. All they have to say is that they were in danger, or feared for their lives, in an effort to evoke empathy from police, jurors, the general public — and to quickly conjure images of dangerous black men to justify and support their fear.

Protect your bodies, your spirits, and your minds.

Anyway, to all of my black people, myself included, who have to endure watching what seems like an endless supply of unjustifiable arrests, assaults, vigilante murders, and police brutality, I love you. Protect your bodies, your spirits, and your minds. We have to stand up for ourselves, defend ourselves, and end this abuse. We are more valuable than we are taught to believe of ourselves, and we deserve much better than the onslaught of violence against our humanity.

Love and light.

What The Black Panther Movie Did For Bald, Black Women

What The Black Panther Movie Did For Bald, Black Women

Jurline Redeaux, courtesy of Instagram

As Black Panther secures its place in history as the 10th highest grossing film of all time, I wanted to share the impact that the film has had on black, bald women.

Not everyone chooses their baldness. Not everyone looks into the mirror and says, “I’m going for the big chop.” For some 6.8 million Americans, the decision is made for them as a result of Alopecia. Alopecia, the hair loss condition, wreaks havoc on a woman’s self esteem. Alopecia tells women they’re abnormal, they’re unattractive, they’re undateable—they’re worthless. But Black Panther and the warriors of Wakanda did something for bald, black women that had NEVER been done before. They recognized them as strong, beautiful, valuable, and regal.

“There are so many women of color who are hiding behind their wigs and their weaves.” —Jurline Redeaux

I would have missed this point entirely had I not connected with Jurline Redeaux, a member of Black TV Film Crew and a black woman who has suffered from Alopecia for more than 30 years. In an initiative to connect with our members, we reposted member photos late last week when we came across Jurline. She posted a photo of herself in a chair, her head shiny and bald, with the caption, “Black Panther screening in Long Beach. #warriorgoddess.” I guess it was the hashtag that got me, but it was also the glow in her face, the smile, and her eyes. She seemed proud. Her photo oozed, “I am a warrior goddess.” And so we reposted it. And what happened after is what inspired this article.

“The Black Panther movie empowered me. After I saw the preview with the women who were bald, I was empowered to go to the opening bald.” —Jurline Redeaux

When Jurline saw that we had selected her photo on Black TV Film Crew’s Instagram page. She left this comment, “You got me crying this morning. I used to be so ashamed of my baldness that I used to sleep in my wig.”

Courtesy Jurline Redeaux instagram

Sleep in your wig? An awakening began. I perused Jurline’s Instagram and I saw a photo of the warriors of Wakanda united with a photo of black women all rocking close cropped, bald heads. I wanted to know why Jurline was ashamed. And I wanted her to know how regal she appeared in her photo. And so I responded, “You are beautiful. Your image will inspire others who struggle with baldness.”

But that was just the beginning. The day I met Jurline via Instagram, I was a guest on Karima’s Show & Tell radio show. The question was raised, “What do you think is the cultural impact of Black Panther?” Me and three other guests gave varied answers but the most riveting answer was given by Danny Asshole (that’s what he calls himself.) I’m paraphrasing but the essence of his statement was, “Those beautiful black women with them bald heads… Before Black Panther, I would have never considered dating a woman with a bald head. But now… Those women were sexy. Ummph. They did something to me.”

I left the studio realizing Danny’s comments and Jurline’s photos and comments were related. Black Panther had impacted people in a way I hadn’t realized. Black Panther impacted the way people saw black women with bald heads. And, Black women with bald heads no longer had to feel ashamed of their baldness because the #1 movie in the world said, “You are beautiful, strong, regal and valuable.”

LEARN THE ART OF THE PITCH FROM OUR OWN SQUEAKY MOORE

I interviewed Jurline shortly after my mind began to connect the dots. This is my summary of what the Black Panther movie did for bald, black women with help from Jurline.

1. It made them beautiful to others who did not see them that way.

“There are men who will straight up say, ‘I don’t want to date a woman with no hair.’ There are men who will say to a woman suffering from Alopecia, ‘I don’t want to see you without your hair on.’” —Jurline Redeaux

2. It gave bald women freedom.

“I went to church for the first time bald after I saw Black Panther. And they ushered me to the front. I feel free, I’m no longer ashamed.”

3. It gave women boldness.

“I’ve been other places bald, but now when I go, I’m bold with it, I’m regal.” —Jurline Redeaux

4. It connected people to their ancestors.

“I believe my people suffered from Alopecia before they were brought to America. My grandmother suffered from it. When I saw the women on screen, not only did it empower me, it connected me to my people.” —Jurline Redeaux

5. It gave a sense of pride.

“Black Panther made me proud to be bald. I’m proud.”

Not too long ago, a black teen girl had her wig snatched off at school. The video and article went viral on Facebook. She, too, suffers from alopecia. Imagine how she may feel now knowing that bald is beautiful and bald is being praised. Hopefully, she’s a bit more inspired and empowered. I loved the Black Panther movie even before I realized how it positively impacted black, bald women. But learning of this cultural impact made me appreciate the efforts of the cast and crew even more. To produce a body of work which is so giving to the community is the ultimate act of love.

Has Black Panther inspired you in some way? If so, leave it in the comments.

Matthew A. Cherry Talks Hair Love Film

Matthew A. Cherry Talks Hair Love Film

What is so touching about a black father doing his daughter’s hair? Apparently, everything. Just ask Writer/Director Matthew A. Cherry who raised over 100k in less than a week for his latest project, Hair Love. Cherry talked to Black TV Film Crew about Hair Love which is still in fundraising mode at Kickstarter with a goal of 200k. Cherry shares his inspiration, black men in the media, goals for the project, and why both black mothers and fathers should support Hair Love.

Hair Love, is a 5 minute animated short film that centers around the relationship between an African-American father, Stephen, his daughter, Zuri and her hair. Despite having long locks, Stephen has been used to his wife doing his daughter’s hair, so when she is unavailable right before a big event, Stephen will have to figure it out on his own. This sounds simple enough, but we soon come to find that Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own.

With this project, we are championing black fathers but we’re also trying to normalize black fathers and in the process normalize black families.

Matthew A. Cherry

Writer / Co-Director

What inspired you to want to do Hair Love?

I had this idea for a couple of years and I was scared for whatever reason. But this year, I decided to be more engaged. Whenever I came across a kid video, or a father video, it would do so many likes and retweets on Twitter. It would go viral. The feedback was always these heartwarming stories,’This reminds me of my kid or of my dad.’ I realized there’s an appetite for this.

Also, I wanted to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color. When black fathers are celebrated and shown in everyday situations, it is very powerful.

Hair Love goes against how black men are portrayed in the media, can you speak to that point?

Black men are portrayed in the media negatively. Either we’re not there, we’re deadbeat, we’re in an abusive situation, or in jail. There are so many different issues which are real within the community, but the media often portrays those issues as the only version of black men you see. With this project, we are championing black fathers but we’re also trying to normalize black fathers and in the process normalize black families. It is a universal story about a father who is doing all that he can for his daughter.

Why should mothers care and support hair love?

Mothers are well represented in the piece. The backbone and core of the black family is the black woman. Black women can relate to this project because they’ve seen their fathers doing something domestic, getting them ready for school or they’ve had a father figure, older brother, uncle, or grandparent in that role. Black women can see themselves in the Zuri character.

What are some main goals of the film?

Something as simple as a black man doing his daughter’s hair has gone viral. It’s almost heroic. They look at it as an anomaly. That’s why it’s important. Maybe someone would have done this story eventually, but maybe not. This guy has a face full of joy and I think that image has connected with folks. This project can help to humanize black men in mainstream media.

For example, when someone is killed by the police, you don’t go and automatically look to see their jail record. Instead, you may think, ‘this guy has a kid’ or ‘this man had to do his daughter’s hair.’ That normalizes us. Also, I want to make this film as dope as possible. I want to make sure no one is disappointed when they see it.

Though Cherry isn’t a father yet, he thought a lot about how he would want to portrayed when he becomes a father. Imagine what this world would be like if every would- be-father thought about how he wanted to be portrayed before becoming a father… The world would be different.

We have proudly donated to the Hair Love Kickstarter campaign and encourage you to support as well. This is a project with heart.

Listen to Matthew talk about Hair Love

To connect with Matthew, please check him out at the following links:

About Matthew:

  • Former NFL player for Bengals, Jaguars, and Panthers
  • Directed The Last Fall featuring Lance Gross & Nicole Behari
  • Directed Michelle Williams ‘Say Yes’ video featuring Beyonce & Kelly Rowland
  • Shot his feature film 9 Rides entirely on an iPhone and premiered it at SXSW