Cops and Robbers, is an animation short currently streaming on Netflix. The short film is written by Timothy Ware-Hill and directed by Timothy Ware-Hill and Arnon Manor. It deals with the themes of police brutality while using spoken word as a catalyst. This project is relatable to many Black people across the country. Ware-Hill paints a picture comparing the life of Black adults to the lives of Black children. He speaks of the innocence and delicacy of playing child-like games such as “cops and robbers” and drawing a parallel to the tremendous fear that Black people live with every day as adults.
Who better to perform this piece than the writer, Ware-Hill, himself? With despair, pain, and fear in his voice, we are brought to moments in time where we or people we love have felt the same way. It is impossible to be Black in America and to not have some sort of emotional investment in this piece. The creative language helps us see our world more clearly. He does an excellent job with word play and painting an accurate picture of our struggle in America. “I just want to go back to playing cops and robbers,” is a repetitive line in the poem. It highlights the natural nostalgia all adults have for their childhood. It reminds us of not having any responsibility, being carefree, and remaining blissful.
Specifically for Black children, it meant at least thinking we had a fair chance at everything this country has to offer, then growing older and realizing that is not the case. Growing up Black in America means slowly discovering the world does not see you as you are. Instead you are seen as the box you are put in. “I just want to go back to playing cops and robbers,” is not only a catchy phrase, but a very real and relatable statement for all of us. Ware-Hill displays his complex writing skills as he packs so much into this one statement! I give this a chef’s kiss!
We all know of the hard work animators put into their jobs, and this project does not shy away from that information. Each and every image is astonishingly jolting. Ware-Hill painted the picture, first, through the spoken word. Then, the animators did an amazing job moving this story along with the images they created. Although some images may be considered a trigger to some, each frame created an accurate depiction of our history and present position in the United States. The animators demonstrated the current state of mental health for many Black Americans today as well. Animation made the very familiar depicted occurrences bearable to witness. The approach to the film helped the audience adjust to the material.
Overall, Cops and Robbers is a film every family should sit down and watch. And it’s a great conversation starter among generations, and an opportunity to share childhood and adulthood experiences. This piece brings about honest revelations about being Black in America. Cops and Robbers represents how our grandparent’s history relates to what young people are experiencing today. This piece could be a great way to bridge certain generational gaps and misunderstandings. Cops and Robbers is a film recommended for every household, every generation, and every Black person in America.
We’d like to give a special acknowledgement that the filmmakers attended Morgan State University. This work is yet another instance proving the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and University is here to stay.