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American Son: Where is the Justice for Black Citizens?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Spelman chapter.

Have you seen Netflix’s, American Son? The story, like many others, gives an account of an interaction between law enforcement and a group of young black men. In the Miami police station, Kendra Ellis-Connor (played by Kerry Washington) is waiting for a report on the whereabouts of her son Jamal, who has suddenly disappeared. She asks for help from Officer Paul Larkin, a rookie cop who is unable to tell her anything about the incident due to both protocol and a lack of knowledge of the incident, telling her that she has to wait for the morning shift liaison officer. Soon after, her estranged husband arrives at the station and demands to know where Jamal is. Personally, watching this story unfold gave me a look into how the parents of Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice felt after receiving the news of their son’s deaths. During the movie Kerry Washington’s character Mrs. Connor is being treated in a way I would imagine most black mothers in this situation would be treated. Officer Larkin refuses to tell her much and began racially profiling Mrs. Connor’s son and referring to him as a “thug”. What was interesting to me was how Officer Larkin’s attitude changed when Mrs. Connor’s white husband comes to the police station. Larkin first mistakes Mr. Connor as another police officer and tells him more information about his missing son then he told Mrs. Connor. As soon as he realizes his mistake, he begins to apologize but it is already clear that he was withholding information because of the color of Mrs. Connor’s skin. 

The theme of police brutality has been and as of now will be a hot topic for a long time. But what is it going to take for America’s police force to take a step back and realize the root of police training was not created in favor of black citizens? It’s movies like this that may not be based on a true story, but when watching too many stories come to mind. It’s heartbreaking how desensitized the black community is to stories like this because they occur way too often. If you haven’t already watched American Son, I highly recommend it, Netflix has been doing a decent job at reflecting diversity through their original movies and shows as of now. If you like American Son, you might also want to watch the series When They See Us. It’s shows like these that with proper publicity, could make for a potential change to the current legal system.

My name is Amarah Gray and currently I am a sophomore at the Spelman College. I am an English major Secondary Education minor. Upon graduating from the illustrious Spelman College I plan to teach high school English and become a high school principal in hopes of one day becoming the superintendent of schools. My passions include educating others, financial literacy education, and educational policies. I enjoy writing as a creative outlet which is why I am super excited to have joined the HER Campus chapter at my college. I hope to bring a fresh perspective to the HER Campus Spelman College chapter.