Wait, how do you make a film about Detroit and exclude Black women in any prominent role?
How is it possible to create a film centered on Black rebellion without acknowledging the women that were part of the revolution?
That’s exactly what we’re seeing in the nearly three-minute first trailer for the once highly-anticipated film about the Motor City’s tumultuous 1967 race riots.
Center Black men: ✔
Center White men: ✔✔
Erase Black women while simultaneously lifting up White women: ✔✔✔ #Detroitmovie https://t.co/qJcuZbaewA
— Neal Carter (@nealcarter) April 12, 2017
Starring John Boyega, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell and Laz Alonzo, under the direction of Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit is described as a “crime drama” set against the ’67 riots that were initiated by a police raid of an unlicensed bar (known in the city as an “after hours joint”), on the city’s Near West Side. Taking a violent turn, the dispute resulted in 39 deaths and hundreds of wounded people over a five-day span.
My grandmother, who lived on Hamilton and Collingwood near the looting and burned buildings worked at the Booker T. Washington Business Association during that time. She recalls the mass destruction as a result of the riots and having to be escorted to and from her destination.
“There were big army trucks and police standing around with their guns. It was scary. We were all scared. You basically had to get permission to leave your house,” she says with sounds of panic in her voice as she reflects on the memories.
She gasped when I informed her that the Detroit film trailer didn’t reflect any Black women.
“Oh no! That’s going to cause trouble.”
And she’s exactly right.
And now, the official trailer for DETROIT. In theaters August 4. #DETROITmovie pic.twitter.com/EEb0n4SHWS
— Annapurna Pictures (@AnnapurnaPics) April 12, 2017
The problem with Bigelow’s Detroit is that—even if the trailer shows the least bit of the film—the idea of teasers is to give an intriguing scope of what’s to come. The summer of ’67 in Detroit was one of the most volatile Black rebellions of the 20th century and the choice to highlight imagery of White women and not women of color will cause more harm than good before the film even hits theaters.
#DETROITmovie looks a hot mess. Y’all really gonna erase Black women from Black rebellion narratives again, huh?
— jamilah (@JamilahLemieux) April 12, 2017
It’s interesting that as I’m writing and dissecting this brief teaser, Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” enters into my Pandora rotation.
There’s no doubt that this is an important film, but as Gaye sings: “It makes me want to holler and throw up both my hands,” at the thought that such a significant time in history could possibly erase the voices of Black women, the backbone of men and evolution.
A few more critical and applauding thoughts from social media can be viewed below:
If you’re gonna name your movie Detroit, maybe choose a narrative that’s more inclusive to the people who actually live here.
— Mike Tré (@TheMikeTre) April 12, 2017
@DetroitMovie This is for the culture 🙌🏼🙌🏼 and they showing love to my city #313
— DetroitPlayer313 (@SkeeterCAL) April 12, 2017
#detroitmovie trailer is intense.. hope Bigelow can do justice to the infamous incident..
— Shashank Jaiswal (@Darde_Devil) April 12, 2017
Where’s the history of racism, neglect, and redlining? Where’s the black power movement? Where are the black women?! #DETROITmovie
— space cat félicette (@felicianista) April 12, 2017
.@DetroitMovie fed up with racism in the city of Detroit, the red-lining, and the police raid at the Blind Pig. I’m interested in seeing them film…
— Darryl!? (@BlkBoyShine) April 12, 2017