Intersection of Race and Gender Amplifies Discrimination – Blog #2

It is no secret that today’s society still demonstrates and supports social hierarchies even though these hierarchies may oppress many different groups of people. It is still seen that certain traits or characteristics give people societal advantages, or grant them special privileges, making their lives that much easier. One advantageous characteristic in today’s society is to be white. White privilege, being the societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstance, is still a very prevalent concept. Another characteristic that encounters little to no societal resistance is heterosexuality, straying from this is viewed as going against societal norms. Discrimination towards individuals seems to increase the more they are viewed as “deviating” from society’s version of desirable qualities or traits such as the ones previously stated. Laverne Cox, a trans woman and also a renowned speaker for transgender rights and racial equality, discusses how the intersection of ones sexual orientation or how one identifies and their race, can play a large role in amplifying harassment.

For starters, both race and gender play huge roles in the makeup of individuals and their identities. People are often discriminated against for certain aspects of their race, or gender, or both. It is clear that racism still exists in a very obvious way within society, through racial profiling, obstruction of justice, and other forms of prejudice. The discrimination against people of colour is very much a systemic problem; in fact racism has even been fairly influential in shaping today’s society, proving that it is still an on going battle. Likewise, discrimination is directed towards ones gender identity as well. For example, when discussing the quality of life of transgender individuals, especially transgender females, you also encounter a distinct amount of inequity, such as difficulty meeting their basic needs. Getting a job, acquiring housing, receiving proper health care, or having their gender identity respected, are all areas of life where transgender individuals experience discrimination and harassment, this usually can be connected to peoples lack of understanding of what it means to be transgender, (someone whose gender differs from the one they were given when they were born), or peoples strong belief of gender binaries. Gender binaries are the classification of sex and gender into two distinct, opposite and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine. Many people do not see gender as a continuum, however many activists, scholars and others do argue that multiple sex statuses and sexed bodies are arrayed along a continuum, with fully female and fully male at the extreme ends.

Both transgender individuals, and people of colour experience discrimination, however when someone is both transgender and of colour, the level and amount of harassment they face, especially for women increases. Trans women specifically of colour have been found to be the most targeted victims of violence of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community. In Laverne Cox’s speech, she mentioned some of the statistics being that trans women make up 72% of anti-LGBTQIA homicide victims, and 89% of these victims were people of colour, those are both huge indicators of the how the intersection of race, specifically colour, and gender, specifically female, increases harassment. Laverne Cox goes on to speak about her own experiences, she explains how a lot of white trans women have not in fact experienced the same level of street harassment as she, herself has, and that this is to do with the fact that she is both trans and a woman of colour. Laverne also highlights that a lot of the harassment that trans women of colour face, has been from other black people. She goes on to explain that this is linked to the collective trauma that dates all the way back to slavery and the historic emasculation of black males due to white supremacy. This statement only further supports the systemic issue that is racism, and the harassment and discrimination that trans women of colour face has way deeper roots embedded in the historic and systemic inequality of society.

In conclusion, Laverne Cox did a brilliant job of bringing to light the fact that the intersection of gender identification and race results in a dramatic increase of discrimination and harassment. The causes of this are two very complex and deeply rooted systemic issues, both including race and racism and sexism and a lack of understand of what it means to be trans gender. Society has been constructed in such a way that both of these traits are seen as pushing the norms and unfortunately, many view this in a negative light.

– Green

“Discrimination Against Transgender People.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., 5 Feb. 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.

“Laverne Cox | Bio.” Laverne Cox RSS2. N.p., 4 May 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

“Laverne Cox Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny (And What to Do About It).” Everyday Feminism. N.p., 07 Dec. 2014. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.

Intersection of Race and Gender Amplifies Discrimination – Blog #2

Queer discrimination is the new black – Blog #2

For my second blog post, I decided to dissect the unjustly news article: Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby. This article is pertaining to a married lesbian couple, Krista and Jami Contreras, who gave birth to four-month-old Bay Windsor Contreras, in October 2014, at the comfort of their own home. Their midwife recommended a pediatrician, Dr. Vesna Roi who the couple was pleasant about and who “seemed pretty straight up” with them. Only six days after giving birth to their baby, the newly parents set up an appointment with Dr. Roi, which by their surprise, refused service because she “prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for Bay” (told by the replacing pediatrician, Dr. Karam). The married couple posted on social media about the discrimination that was bestowed upon them, which resulted to others writing letters to the facility. It wasn’t until after four months did Dr. Roi sent a letter to the Contreras apologizing for refusing service by stating, “Please know that I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice”. By coming across this article, without hesitation, I had to deconstruct and analyze the ways in which it demonstrates systemic and intersecting discrimination of the LGBTQ community, and how both are still prevalent in modern societies.

For starters, people a part of the LGBTQ community often experience systemic discrimination against their sexual orientation, or preference. For places such as the United States of America, where the article was taken place, there are laws against same-sex marriage in various states in the country. Most of the time, if a queer couple wanted to ‘tie the knot’, they would often travel to the very few states that have legalized same-sex marriage. This insinuates that same-sex couples are an inconvenience to the societies that are often homophobic, or hateful and/or fearful of the LGBTQ community; so they make same-sex marriage an inconvenience to them. Such a basic right that should given to everyone, regardless of sex, gender, and sexuality, is voided and unavailable to same-sex couples – that should be free to express their love and unity.

This goes into another example where the law systemically discriminates queers, which the article has touched upon, regarding physicians’ refusal of service to patients. The American Medical Association, or AMA, have laws which states that “physicians cannot refuse to care for patients based on sexual orientation, but doctors can refuse treatment if it’s incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs”. Although it is great that the AMA has laws that protect the LGBTQ community against physicians and practitioners who may have homophobic beliefs, this also backfires with the latter law, stated in the article, by allowing further discrimination to occur in a discreet, “it’s your prerogative” notion. This goes to show that on the surface, the laws, and the societies themselves, appear genderless or promote equality; but in fact, with other laws protecting the dominant culture, heterosexuals, it often contradicts and reinforces the stigma and degradation of queer individuals and whomever that do not fit with societal “norms” or the majority.

This leads to the intersecting discrimination that many queers experience on a day-to-day basis. For example, many same-sex couples and members of the LGBTQ community often face difficulties with hegemonic masculinity – relating to the cultural norms of masculinity and power – and emphasized femininity – relating to womanhood that is controlled by men – when regarding the intersection of their gender and sexuality. If, for instance, a queer individual takes on an essence or a different gender opposed of their assigned sex, one will often be accused of not being masculine or feminine enough. This leads to the individual being abandoned by one’s own sex because one does not fit the societal norms of what it is to be a “man” or “woman”. Thus, some queer males may not fully display hegemonic masculinity but express emphasized femininity and sometimes vise-versa for queer females. The discrimination against the intersection of gender and sexuality within the LGTBQ community is prevalent, promotes the gender binary that is popular to many societies, and puts such individuals as “the other”.

I close by stating that queers have come a long way in terms of gaining equal rights and acceptance within many societies. From the feminist movement, to the 1980’s epidemic of HIV/AIDS, the LGBTQ community has increasingly become more integrated within hetero-dominant cultures. It alarms me that after all the fighting that queers have done to be viewed as human, an article that has been published, as recent as February 2015, takes us back into a time warp; displaying that queer discrimination is still a current and recurring issue within many societies. As a whole we all need to help and find love for one another, fully accept one for who they are, and to free degradation and marginalization from ones’ lives. Love is unique to each individual, does not conform to what the media or popular conceptions have to say, and is a universal language that is understood through many bodies – why limit it to only a few?

Reference:

My Fox Detroit, Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby, http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby, accessed on March 9th, 2015. 

-Purple

Queer discrimination is the new black – Blog #2

Discrimination at the Doctors: Blog #2 by Red

Cornell West once said that “justice is what love looks like in public.” In this case, ‘the public’ is seen as a doctor’s office, and justice, or the lack of it, takes the form of two lesbian mothers and their pediatricians refusal to see their daughter. Krista and Jami, who officially got married to each other in 2012, had their baby and were expecting to bring her to their previously met pediatrician, Dr. Roi. However, on the day of the appointment, they were met with another doctor who explained that ultimately Dr. Roi did not, and could not, feel comfortable taking care of a baby who had two mothers. Krista even states that when first meeting Dr. Roi, she was very happy with her care, and was comfortable with her as her future baby’s doctor. Dr. Roi’s opinion evidently changed when she realized that Krista and Jami were partners, and would be raising baby Bay together. Dr. Roi, and the entire human population, sadly live in a world of compulsory heterosexuality, where one assumes everyone’s sexuality is heterosexual. Focused especially on this incident, there is a strong sense of heteronormativity, especially coming from Dr. Roi, as she merely assumes the sexuality of Krista and Jami to be heterosexual. Upon discovering that they are actually homosexual, she regards them as wrong and prays for them, refusing to see them or their baby; who is only a few days old and is too young to even understand the term sexuality or why she is being refused treatment based on her mother’s sexual orientation. In a letter that Dr. Roi later writes to Krista and Jami, four months after receiving complaints from people who had heard about the incident, she gives a feeble excuse and poor apology. The Doctor basically says in her letter to the parents that she is not homophobic, but merely would not be able to develop a strong relationship with them as she does with other patients, and that is why she refused to see them. On technical terms,  Dr. Roi, and any other doctor, have the “right to refuse treatment if it is incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs.” This law essentially protects people like Dr. Roi who clearly show examples of discriminating against their patients based not on just their sexuality, but their race, or gender as well. But what laws protect people like Krista and Jami, and their little baby? None in the state of Michigan, which is where they reside. In fact, Michigan has no laws in place that protect LGBTQ families at all from facing discrimination, a statement that says a lot about the care and condition of these families. The case of Jami and Krista is a sad one, but the systematic and structural discrimination of LGBTQ families does not end there, in fact it only gets worse. Looking at this case analytically, one must analyze all parts of the incident, and in this case one should pay attention and question aspects such as race and gender, especially how they intersect with each other. Jami and Krista are both white women who are raising their white baby, but how different would the story be if those aspects were changed? What if it were two coloured women who were taking their baby to Dr. Roi? Or two trans-women?  Also, we should not just look at altered situations with just women, but also men. Would Dr. Roi, and the countless number of other Doctors who share the same beliefs as her, refuse the same treatment to a pair of gay fathers? No matter what way we look at the story, one thing will always remain the same. If the parents of a baby where both a white man and a white woman, then it would fall right into the heteronormative ideal that the world not only expects, but treats properly. Proper laws should be set in place to protect these LGBTQ families from being discriminated against, and the people in power of positions who refuse them should be taken into account for their actions. The fact that LGBTQ families should be included in mandatory education is a statement that has been argued and recited many times, but the fact is that nothing will change without proper action to abolish the discrimination they face. A coloured woman, a trans-woman, and a homosexual woman should not fear refusal for being treated at a hospital, or refusal for treatment anywhere, based on their race, gender, or sexuality. When these groups of oppressed people are able to simply be in public, then, just like Cornell West says, will justice be found.

References

Aulette, Judy Root and Judith Wittner. “Gendered Worlds.” New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.

My Fox Detroit. “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-Sex Couples Baby.” February 18th 2015. Web. March 2015. <http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby&gt;

Discrimination at the Doctors: Blog #2 by Red

The Way He Looks: Film Review by Grey

The Way He Looks is a film centered on Leonardo – a blind teenage boy who wants to find his “great romance.” The film opens with Leonardo and Giovanna, his best friend who has a crush on him, sitting by a pool declaring that this year everything will change. Everything does change when Gabriel joins their class, and Leonardo falls in love with him. Thus begins a coming of age movie centered on the intersectionality of being both homosexual and blind.

The Way He Looks strengths lie in how it broaches the subject matter of homosexual relationships. While most coming-of-age movies reflect heteronormativity, how heterosexual relationships are normalized in media, The Way He Looks breaks this heteronormativity and explores queer cripping. Queer cripping, or the intersectionality of queerness and disability, is a major theme for The Way He Looks, as Leonardo is both queer and disabled. Neither Leo’s queerness nor his disability is a part of his identity. Leonardo is not defined by these traits, he is defined by his actions during the movies. The Way He Looks provides an exemplary look at queer cripping, Leo is comfortable with who he is and he is independent. If one were to contrast this to films with other queer or disabled characters, one would notice that queerness is often made into a characters entire identity (see Bruno) and disability is seen as something to change (such as Avatar). The Way He Looks does not make queerness Leo’s sole identity, and Leo embraces his blindness rather than wish he was never born blind. In fact, the film shows certain benefits to Leo’s disability. Illustrating how impressed Gabriel is with Leo’s ability to read Braille.

With that said, The Way He Looks does have some problems, mummy blaming and slut shaming are prevalent throughout the film. Leonardo and his mother are constantly at odds, while Leo’s father is portrayed as the better parent. For example, Leonardo’s mother constantly nags and babies him, rather than give him independence. Moreover, Leonardo’s mother constantly infantilizes Leonardo by not allowing him to go on exchange, go to a school camp or wander around by himself after dark. Conversely, Leonardo’s father constantly fights for Leonardo putting him at odds with the mother. In no other scene is this illustrated better than in the shaving scene, where Leonardo’s father says he wants to give Leonardo more independence. The dichotomy between Leonardo’s mother and father show mummy blaming throughout the film.

Secondly, slut shaming comes around in The Way He Looks when Karina is introduced to us. Karina is constantly described as a “slut” Giovanni stresses this when she tells Leonardo that Karina would easily “hook up” with Leonardo. Moreover, when Gabriel arrives Karina goes right up to him and flirts, much to Giovanni’s chagrin. Karina is somewhat absolved of her “slut” behaviour when Gabriel stands up for her. While this character trait is often seen in coming-of-age films, it is inexcusable for a film that breaks boundaries to fall back on such a cliché.

Finally, The Way He Looks should have pushed barriers even further by exploring the social construction of love and romance. As previously mentioned, The Way He Looks explores themes previously explored by coming-of-age films, holding the same Hollywood ideal of love and not challenging it. If the film had challenged the social construction of love in media, it would have been much better. Rather than Leonardo finding true love, the film could have explored the fickleness of teenage romance.

One scene that stood out during the film, was the opening scene. The opening scene involves Leonardo and Giovanni resting beside a pool, discussing who romance, and who Leonardo’s first kiss should be. During this scene, one witnesses heteronormative patterns, as they only mention members of the opposite sex for their great romance. These patterns are enhanced with the hints Giovanni gives that she longs to kiss Leonardo, but these patterns are the strongest in this scene because of The Way He Looks genre. Normally, coming-of-age movies focus on heterosexual romances, not homosexual ones. Therefore, with a little background knowledge on the genre one assumes that the film will be about Giovanni and Leonardo falling in love.

I was pleasantly surprised by Reelout. Coming from Toronto and seeing the Gay Pride Parade every year, I assumed Reelout would be very small and almost non-existent. I believed that nothing could compare to Pride, especially in a city as small as Kingston. However, I was pleasantly surprised, I found the turnout to be much larger than I believed and the crowd was very enthusiastic. While some of these people may have been from Gender Studies, the turnout was still much larger than I expected.

Bibliography:

The Way He Looks. Dir. Daniel Ribeiro. Perf.  Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim,                                       2014. Film.

The Way He Looks: Film Review by Grey

Girlhood Film Review

The film, Girlhood, introduces the 16-year-old protagonist, Marieme (Karidja Touré). The young, timid, quiet teenager never belonged in a niche of her own. Being raised in the projects of a low socio-economic area in France, Marieme is the main caregiver for her younger sisters, as her mother (Binta Diop) works late long hours. Her brother plays the abusive father figure in the household, scowling his younger siblings for anything that arises. Marieme’s school life is far from pleasant. She has repeated the same grade for three years because her grades are really poor. This resulted her guidance counselor suggesting technical schools for her to commence in the trades sector for employment. Marieme storms off into the playing court where she encounters three girls: Lady (Assa Sylla), Adiatou (Lindsay Karamoh), and Fily (Mariétou Touré) (who become her new group). These free-spirited girls take her under their wing and ultimately transform her to a new person: New name, new appearance, new motives, and new attitude. The four adolescents search for freedom, to be liberated from their unfortunate upbringing in life (from shoplifting to wear better clothing, to interacting with boys who may not have the best interests for them). Marieme, being unsure of her identity, ultimately becomes an individual who is depicted as the other, being alienated from society and does not have a place she can call home.

The director of Girlhood, Céline Sciamma, excellently talks about the obstacles teenage girls go through growing up, one of them being the battle of being accepted. For example, in the beginning of the film where Marieme decides to join Lady, Adiatou, and Fily, she experiences alienation. These girls are outspoken, loud, and confident, all of which Marieme isn’t. When the girls are at the train station, there are another group of girls at the other side of the tracks bickering and talking poorly about them. Being as shameless as they are, Lady, Adiatou, and Fily start yelling and standing up for themselves. Marieme, experiencing being the other, does not participate and remains quiet in solitude. This demonstrates one of the obstacles of being a teenager, not being able to fit in and be accepted as one’s own.

Another challenge that arises from being an adolescent is the treatment of being a child and not taken seriously. This is shown through the scene where the girls go inside a high-end store to browse. The white employee asks Marieme if she needs any assistance but she says no. Being a young, black teenager, the employee immediately starts to follow her around the store to ensure nothing gets stolen. Lady then appears at the scene and asks the employee why she is following her and suddenly realizes it is because of her race. All the girls then storm off out of the store. This scene really projects intersectionality of age and race through the stereotypes that are thrown onto marginalized groups. This also relates to the White privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack article by Peggy McIntosh under the white privileges that states “5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed” (McIntosh 1988). With this double standard at hand, Marieme and the other girls must go through the struggle of being young and black in a prominently white society in France.

The last obstacle in being a teenager is the search of independence and freedom. Marieme, Lady, Adiatou, and Fily are all on a quest into becoming their own, to be freed from poverty and misfortune. One example is when the girls shoplifted dresses and booked a room to hangout. This leads to them cranking up Rihanna’s Diamonds and dancing the night away. This scene really shows a moment where they felt liberated and free, a moment that they will cherish as this is only temporary for them. For individuals as young as them, it is difficult to be their own individual when they are still dependants in society. For some people, individuality arises either when one is independent, rebellious, or rejects societal norms. In the case of Marieme, Lady, Adiatou, and Fily, that stage in their lives is far from reality.

With all these obstacles at hand, the director does an excellent job in demonstrating them through the characters, making the film an excellent example of a world of a teenage girl. With all due respect, Girlhood lacks examples of other races within the film. It would have been ideal if the film focused more on the general issue of poverty than to target it to a specific race and culture. Taking this course presumes that only back people within that society experience poverty and the struggles of life. Also, it also insinuated and reemphasized the type of roles and projections of black people within society and in the film industry. Many films that have black characters are often assigned a role that degrades and belittles the race as a whole. Why is it that black people are often portrayed as poor, unstable, and struggling to survive? Why can’t there be more roles in which show these minorities being successful or the majority in society? These questions always come to mind when the stereotypes of black people are reinforced into films without acknowledgement.

Overall the film, Girlhood, is an excellent film that successfully projects the lives of individuals who aren’t as well off as others and captures what it is like to be a teenage girl within those parameters and circumstances. If one is intrigued about looking close up at black individuals in the predominantly well-known society of France, it is definitely worth ten dollars to sneak a peak.

References:

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.” White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. 1 Jan. 1988. Web. 7 Feb. 2015. <http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html&gt;.

-Purple

Girlhood Film Review

Out In The Night Film Review by Blue

Out In The Night is a documentary, directed by Blair Dorosh-Walther, based on the true story about the New Jersey 4. This documentary highlights the intersectionality of the themes of gender, race, and sexuality. Recounting the story of four African-American women who were wrongfully convicted. The incident took place on a summer night in August, where Venice, Renata, Terrain, and Patreese were walking through the West Village. The village is known to be a significant neighbourhood for LGBTQ communities and described as a safe haven by these four women. As they walked passed the Independent Film Cinema, an older man, named Dwayne Buckle, sexually propositioned one of the four women. After declining his advances, Buckle shouted obscene and slanderous remarks in regards to their homosexuality and started to follow them. The four of them finally stopped to confront him, and a heated argument broke out. He spat on one of them and intensifying the verbal attack into a physical one. The fact that these women were convicted and sent to jail for three and a half to 11 years, for protecting their basic human rights is exceptionally unjust. They were defending themselves from an attacker who had threatened to sexually assault them, ripped hair from their scalps, and choked them.

One scene in the movie that was extremely shocking was at the end of the documentary. It is where they played a recording of the police officer’s conversation, right after they had been reports of a man being stabbed. They stated in the recording that the victim was not in fatal condition and that there was no blood at the scene. During the trial, newspapers shinned a negative light on the women and depicted the women as the attackers, rather than the victims. They were called the “Lesbian Wolf Pack” and headline on the tabloids all read this was “The Attack of the Lesbian Killers.” Racialization was also displayed in this film, as the women were called a gang by the press, solely based on their race. The four women had no previous criminal record, but were portrayed as the attackers in the tabloids. Another part of the documentary that was appalling was at the beginning of the film. They had shown a picture of the attackers stab wound, which looked extremely large, but in fact it was the scar from a surgery he had undergone. During the trial, they said that the wound the large wound was the he had gotten after being stabbed in the abdomen by Patreese. This is an example of how corrupt the justice system is, and how it can make the innocent look guilty and make turn victims into the attackers. These women went through such a horrid and unthinkable experience that changed their lives forever. Two of the women had a child, and and being taken away from their families, for just protecting themselves.

The director did an incredible job, illustrating the story and injustice these four women faced. This film opened my eyes to the cruel inequalities people face, because of something so simple, such as the colour of one’s skin, gender, or sexual orientation. During the film, Angela Davis, made a valid point, saying that things would have been different if four Caucasian women were sexually and physically attacked by a man. In relation to this film is Peggy McIntosh’s article called White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. In it she compares the male and white privileges to the female and other race privileges. For example she states in her article that, “41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me” (McIntosh 1988). Something that also stuck with me after watching this film was when Renata was interviewed. She said that she was ashamed of her story and how she was raped at the age of nine, because of how people would look at her. She said she could not defend herself then, and he ended up getting five years for and she got eight years, for trying to defend herself, from another predator.

Overall the documentary Out In The Night was a fascinating movie on the social construction of how one’s race, gender, class, and sexuality can put them at a disadvantage in today’s world, specifically the prejudicial legal system. I would recommend this film and this festival. My experience attending the Reelout Film Festival, at The Screening Room, was a great one. I thoroughly enjoyed the quaint theatre and the more personal experience of watching the film. The crowd was diverse in age, gender, and race and they all seemed very enthusiastic and eager about the festival and film.

Reference:

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.” White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. 1 Jan. 1988. Web. 7 Feb. 2015. <http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html&gt>.

Out In The Night Film Review by Blue

Blackbird Film Review By Red

This year, after viewing the trailers for the line up that Reelout had in store, there were a number of movies that clearly stood out among the rest. The movie that ultimately caught my attention was Blackbird, directed by  Patrik-Ian Polk. The story is a coming of age that focuses on Randy Rousseau and his experience with coming to terms with his sexuality. As a prominent member of his church and their choir, and an activist still searching for his sister who was kidnapped years ago, Randy tries his best to not give any attention to his growing feelings for one of his friends, Todd. After attending an audition, a new character named Marshall is introduced and he makes it very clear that he has an interest in Randy. While denying that he is gay, Randy continues to spend time with Marshall, the two of them getting closer. The more time Randy and Marshall spend together, the more Randy’s feelings grow stronger, and as an attempt to mute them completely, he has sex with his friend, Crystal. Todd and his girlfriend, Leslie, begin to experience trouble when Leslie discovers that she is pregnant, and her father, the pastor of the church, plans an abortion against both her and Todd’s will. Randy and Marshall eventually start to see each other but their relationship is cut short when they are caught together by Randy’s mother, who is physiologically affected by the kidnapping of her daughter, and she blames Randy and the fact that he is gay for all the bad things that happened in their life. During an attempt at trying to remove the ‘demons’ from inside of him, Randy discovers that Leslie committed suicide. Randy, although he has been forbidden to see him, seeks comfort in Marshall, and the two reconcile despite Randy’s family situation. Eventually, things start to look up when Randy’s little sister who was previously missing is found, and returns home. The end of the movie draws near as Randy is visited by Todd in a dream. It is revealed that Todd committed suicide to follow Leslie, unable to be a part from her. The dream Todd reveals things to Randy that his subconscious has been putting off, like his less than perfect relationship with Marshall and his mother, and his little sister and her inability to stop running away. The dream ends with Randy accepting what he has had trouble doing so for the last two months, and vows to start moving on with his life, finally at peace with himself and everything around him.

The only main character in the film who is white is Randy’s boyfriend, Marshall. Looking at the character of Marshall critically, he has a strong resemblance with the “new image” of the gay man, as said by Fejes in his analyses of the TV show Queer as Folk. (Fejes 2000 cited in Gendered Worlds, 417) Marshall is portrayed as a young, white, slightly buff, handsome, and educated gay man. The only characteristics he is missing from the ideal “image” of a televised gay man is the stable income and professional job. One can’t help but notice the tint of white supremacy within Marshall’s character, seeing as how he is portrayed as saving and teaching Randy the real meaning of what it is to be a homosexual man. In other words, Marshall within the film is paired with a white savior complex, and is seen ultimately saving Randy’s life for the better, just by being with him.

The movie itself is unique, as it comes from the perspective of a black gay man. In the scenario of the film, Randy’s race is tied to his community within the small southern town where he lives, especially involving him within his church. His gender ties with his family situation, expecting him to be the man of the house, as his father left, and his mother is unstable, so he must take care of the house, himself, and his mothers decaying mind. However, it is not just the two separate elements, but rather the intersection of them both. The fact that he is a black male, who ends up being in a relationship with a white male, says a lot about the film and its meaning. Comparing it to a black female in a relationship with a white man, or two white men in a relationship, the intersection of Randy’s race and gender allow for more to come from the film.

The movie, although it lowers the authenticity of it, features a number of subplots, one being the sexuality of Randy’s best friend, Efrem. In the middle of the movie, a new plot is introduced involving Efrem being caught in sexual acts with other men. Efrem is not sure whether men have always been his preference, or if it grew out of his desire to torment his own father, but he finds himself identifying as homosexual, eventually becoming happy with his decision to accept the truth. One key scene from the movie that captured my attention, and related back to the lessons taught during class, was the scene where Randy’s mother discovers that Randy is gay, and has been with another boy. She forbids Marshall from ever seeing Randy again, and then moves on to yell at Randy, blaming him for all the bad things that have happened to their family, namely the disappearance of Randy’s sister. Randy’s mother shows a strong sense of homophobia, not in the literal sense of fear, but in the meaning where she is prejudiced and discriminative to her own son, due to him being gay. She struggles with even the idea, and immediately prays to God, saying that Randy doesn’t mean what he is doing, that it is all a mistake, and that they both ask for forgiveness. This particular scene stuck out to me because it was very emotional, with its feature of Randy being told that his true self is wrong and a deviation of God, while his own mother begs for him to be fixed. The scene is strikingly alarming, but is the reality of a lot of people’s lives, which is why it gained such a strong reaction from me. The images within this scene feature a lot of iconography, specifically to do with the Christian faith, as the viewer can see pictures of Jesus, Randy’s mother praying on her knees, and a number of crosses within the house. This scene ties one of the strongest elements of Randy’s coming of age tale, his sexuality interacting with his religion.

The film should be commended as it demonstrates dealing with a number of issues, however due to its rushed ending, random and incomplete subplots, and at times the cringe worthy acting, the film as a movie was not so enjoyable to watch. Focusing on the aspects within the film paint it in a better light, and makes it easier to analyze the film. Living in the small town of Kingston that consists of the majority of its residents being white, Blackbird as a movie, and its screening, was definitely a sight to see. It was interesting to watch a movie where the entire cast was made up of black men and women, and that setting was a community that catered to black residents, in this case the setting of the film was in a southern small town. One thing that I would have liked to see more out of the film was more of a focus on Randy’s race, and the issues that he faced with that. Compared to the issues dealing with hi sexuality, the fact that he was colored plays a smaller role, and one might even say that his race in the film was marginalized. Overall, the film was pleasant to watch, although the technical aspects of it could do with a lot of improvement, the film does hold a lot of importance concerning gender and race, so overall, I would recommend the film to be watched.

Blackbird Film Review By Red