When They Fail Us

I've had a sinking feeling in my spirit for a few days, but couldn't find a reason why - that is, until Ava DuVernay's "When They See Us" came out.

There's been some contention over who the intended audience of "When They See Us" is, and if it even needs to be seen at all. IMO, if you don't know the case of the Central Park Five (or as DuVernay calls them, The Exonerated Five; I'll do the same from here on out), then you need to at least read about it. Ignorance is a privilege that nobody should be afforded. If you know what happened but just don't want to watch, I totally understand - but turn it on anyway with the volume off and walk away so the crew can get their streams in.


Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise

Caleel Harris as Young Antron McCray

Asante Blackk as Young Kevin Richardson

Ethan Herisse as Young Yusef Salaam

Marquis Rodriguez as Young Raymond Santana

DuVernay's chilling depiction of the case was released just a few days before June 6 - the 4th anniversary of Kalief Browder's suicide.

If you know anything about Kalief's story, then just the mere thought of it will make you sick to your stomach. I've often cited his life and death as one of the single most tragic instances in contemporary U.S. history.

If you don't know about what happened to Kalief Browder, check out my summation below:








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Getting justice for Kalief’s imprisonment + death has taken its toll on his family, especially Venida, who was with her son every step of the way. The shock of finding his dead body, picking up his cause, + managing lawsuits against the city (upwards of $40 million on the table) led to chronic heart failure, finally killing her in October 2016, after suffering 12 heart attacks in one 24-hour period. Politicians, celebrities, the Browder family, and others are working to make sure Kalief + Venida’s deaths have not been in vain. President Obama signed an executive order banning excessive use of solitary confinement for all juveniles in federal prison, citing Kalief for the decision. A foundation to aid wrongfully imprisoned people + a scholarship fund at his alma mater was created in his memory. Prospect Ave. in the Bronx was renamed Kalief Browder Way. Perhaps most symbolic, NY Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a plan to close Rikers Island down for good. The story of Kalief Browder is, in my opinion, the greatest tragedy in modern American history. He deserved better, but I’m happy to spread his story if that can be my piece to help. #Justice4Kalief
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I don't think that you can discuss one case without the other, because they're too terribly intertwined. 



There are many similarities in the experiences of the wrongly accused, despite a 20-year time gap: no DNA evidence, no weapons, no eyewitnesses...but they were young, they were poor, and they were Latino or Black, and that's all the system needs. If officials in New York cared more about its residents, then what happened to Kevin, Antron, Raymond, Yusef, and Korey would've never happened to Kalief two decades after the fact. 

So let's do a check in. Are you outraged? Dismayed? Fed up? 


Don't let these feelings dissipate before you take action. We owe it to the victims of the criminal justice system. We owe it to our families and friends. Most importantly, we owe it to our children and future children - because if we don't get it under control soon, one of our babies will be up next.