Why Django Doesn’t Matter
Listening to the voice on the other end of the phone I stood in disbelief as I heard my sister tell me that my 20 year old nephew was killed. The ‘what happened’ were followed by the ‘whys’ as she shared what little she knew of the situation. Although she didn’t know much at the moment, she knew that my nephew was a victim of a break-in and probably surprising the person, who was entering the home, was shot in the chest.
It was ironic as just several days ago I had posted on my Facebook page how we shouldn’t be discussing the movie Django Unchained but instead talking about the murder rate in Chicago of 505 people killed mostly by guns and the victims being mostly black and Latino. How we should redirected the intelligent conversations of black intellects who wanted to dissect a movie rather than having a conversation of dissecting why men of color were dropping like flies by guns, killed by their own.
And I will admit to myself that even in sharing the high body count from Chicago I like others probably felt removed from what was happening as I was in New York City. But after knowing how my nephew died I saw it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that my nephew was far removed himself as he was in Oklahoma City. It didn’t matter that he as a young African American male didn’t have a police record and was on winter break from college. It didn’t matter that young black men like him are being murdered every single days in numbers that eclipse the mass shooting that have made the headlines. Not to compare the terrible tragedies but to show the magnitude. Yet my Facebook feed and other articles pertaining to the black community today is dominated by the discussion of Django Unchained and the cinema representation of slavery by a white man.
For me Django doesn’t matter.
In retrospect this time next year the movie will be a distant memory while this day next year will have brought back the pain and agony of the loss of my nephew. We won’t be talking about Spike Lee voicing his opinion about a movie. We will have instead moved on from our discussion of how many times the ‘N’ word was used in the film and whether or not Tarantino has the race license to put this on celluloid. But it seems that what we won’t be talking about is the high numbers of Blacks being killed by firearms in this country. I make that prediction as not only are we not talking about it now, I can’t recall any conversation of gun violence in black communities that match the level we’re giving to Django during the past years.
I had to hold my tongue when a co-worker reported that she was offended by dolls that were made from the likeness of characters from the movie Django and being sold. I wanted to spurt out that I’m offended that the life of my nephew who was only twenty and had a full life ahead of him had his life taken senselessly by the act of a gun. I’m offended that we want to sit around the fire in Kumbaya moments and distill what the white man has done to us yet we don’t want to acknowledge how little we have done for each other. I’m offended that the life of a black person holds less weight than a movie that I can buy bootleg on 125thstreet for five dollars.
I feel the black community itself needs to become unchained.
We need to remove the shackles of oppression we have placed on ourselves and each other in the community. Our feet and hands have to become unchained as it won’t take just table talk of society ills and theory’s why black men are killing each other.
We already know why they’re killing each other. They’re killing each other because we want to take the easy way out and talk about a movie instead of taking the necessary ‘actions’ of fostering our young black men and guiding them to futures that young men of other races are afforded. And the word action is in parentheses to highlight that action and not talk is what’s needed in order to stop this senseless gun violence and disregard for each other. No more usage of ten letter words to affirm the letters one has behind their names or the expunging of Wikipedia facts of why blacks kill each other. We need action in the form of men and women talking and caring about young black men whose pants are sagging or hanging on the corner smoking blunts. We need to do this despite the fact they are strangers and we have no relations to them. In our actions we must make them visible and valid. Most importantly reminding them despite who they are and their circumstances that they still matter. We give them what has been often denied to us, hope.
Django doesn’t matter and it never will. Anthony Hartfield Jr. Age 20, promising basketball star, college student and the older brother of a sister and a younger brother. That’s what matters. That’s what I want to talk about.