Call Your Brother Son Because He Shines Like One

November 29th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been following this documentary series called Little Brother for a while now. It’s composed of several interviews with young black boys from pre-teens on up. The producers talk to the boys about their life, basically what life is like. It’s counterprogramming, I figure, for black pathology, which teaches that black boys will be dead or in jail by 25, are crack babies, are savages, will stick you for your purse in an elevator, wants your white daughters, and on and on. It starts at the top, really, with “What’s wrong with the black community?” before trickling down to “How will black women date if all the black men are in jail?” to “Let’s completely ruin the perfectly useful phrase ‘down low’ so that we can push a paranoid and probably homophobic trend, also, how will black women date if all of the black men are secretly gay?” to “Why are black teens having so many babies?” and then on down to “Seriously though, black boys will rape and murder you just for living. Hide your daughters.” Talib Kweli had a good line in “Astronomy (8th Light)” that took a while to sink in for me. “Black like the perception of who on welfare.”

It’s an old and poisonous lie, and one we still haven’t gotten rid of. It’s taken new forms, too–Herman Cain is cooning his black behind off in order to convince the white people who will make or break his campaign that he isn’t like the dangerous black people, look! he hates Muslims, too! “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?”

This documentary hits close to home for me and probably a lot of other people, because you grow up seeing this on the news (this is back when the news was true), reading it in text books, and hearing warnings from teachers and/or DARE cops. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t actually true because you had no way of knowing better. You assume that it’s right, and maybe you start living your life accordingly, because that’s how you’re Supposed To Be. You get boxed in.

Personally, I grew up fatherless. My mom took me to the YMCA or the sports league on base so I could play basketball and soccer. She was a social worker at the time, so she saw the worst of us. I taught myself to shave, which is still one of my least favorite things to do, cut my hair, and talk to girls. I had to guess at what makes a man, or try to glean secret truths by watching other people. It was confusing and frustrating, and the sort of thing that everyone probably goes through. You’d never know it, though, because who’d talk about it? “Hey man, what should I say to Terra?” “How do I shave?”

This documentary is really interesting. I like seeing black boys getting a chance to talk about what they like and don’t like, how and where they’re growing up, and how they relate to their family. It’s nice to see them talking about what love feels like. It’s nice, I guess, to see a confirmation that I was normal, everyone I knew was normal, and things are probably gonna be okay.

The trailer:

I got an email this morning letting me know that Little Brother is airing on TV tonight. It’s showing on the Documentary Channel.

Don’t miss the U.S. National Television Premiere of Little Brother: Things Fall Apart on Documentary Channel, tonight at 8pm EST/PST with a repeat broadcast at 11:00pm EST/PST.

Subscribers of Dish Network (Channel 197) and DirecTV (Channel 267) across the United States will be able to watch the broadcast.

If you’re like me, though, and you don’t have that channel, you can check it out on Amazon. Little Brother: Things Fall Apart is available for seven day rental for $4.99.

I feel like this project is pretty important. It’s a humanizing effort, a reminder that these boys are no different from anyone else. They weren’t poisoned from birth.

Give it a look, if you’re curious.

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