By Jasmine Kelly
I think enough time has passed and enough dust has settled for us to finally have this conversation. Yep, that one.
Yes, like many of my brothers and sisters, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I first learned about the movie, Queen and Slim. I mean, who wouldn’t have been? From the previews, the film appeared to be a mix between the Black Lives Matter Movement and Love Jones. To say the least, I was hooked! It is with great remorse to say that I no longer feel the same about the film after viewing.
It isn’t the fact that the lead actors, Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya did not do a good job; in fact, they were excellent! I enjoyed the imagery on screen and relished in the fact that two dark skin actors were the lead roles. I mean, just viewing the two together on screen was art in itself. However, there is a certain responsibility that comes with art. Whether we choose to admit it or not, we are affected by what we see and hear. The writer of the film, Lena Waithe said so herself: “I come from the church of Nina Simone; in that, it is our job as artists to reflect the times. And by that, anything a black person writes is political. How could it not be?”
I found myself highly disappointed in the film because I thought that Lena Waithe would have been a bit more responsible in her use of imagery and the messages from the film. For one, I found it totally unnecessary that the young black boy had to violently kill the black officer, who might I add, was reasoning with the young boy to leave the protest and go home. I am not saying that there are not any corrupt black officers, but it did no good for me to see a black officer being shot by a young black protester. As a matter of fact, it is also an insult to the Black Lives Matter movement and other protesters as well because such messaging can cause negative misrepresentations and misconstrue the goals of why protesters, well…protest.
Additionally, the person who sold out Queen and Slim was, you guessed it! A black person! What the hell?! While I was in the movie theatre, I heard many of the other black people in there solemnly exclaim, “It’s always your own people.” Again, I was disgusted. Why couldn’t it have been someone else? What message was Lena trying to send? On the other hand, the individuals who did the most to help Queen and Slim were a lily-white, unmistakably southern married couple. Because what would a black movie be without white saviors?! Do you see the parallels that I am trying to draw here? A white married couple tried to help Queen and Slim while a black person turns them in to the authorities. I don’t know what type of times Lena was trying to reflect, but I am lost and quite disappointed.
To make matters worse, Queen and Slim eventually die. Now, I am not the voice for all black people, but I don’t think that I stand alone when I say that black people are good on seeing black people die in films for a while. For once, it would have been nice to see a black person persevere against a white person or any person who has wrongly wreaked havoc on their existence. In my opinion, the messaging that Lena tried to send was that black people need to stay in their place because when we try to combat the forces that be, it does not end well for us. Oh, and to also not trust each other because white people are here to help us (eye-rollin’ for all the ancestors).
In essence, I am disheartened by this film. Lena had a great duty to the black community and the world, in which she failed miserably. So I ask you: is this your Queen?
Jasmine Kelly is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Jasmine is a higher education professional who believes in the powers of Black Twitter. You can follow her on Instagram @chicomydusty.