Black and Blue: ‘American Skin’ Film Brings the Heat About Police Brutality 

A spoiler-free review of the movie “American Skin.”


Anger and unspeakable grief. Chaos and consequences.

“American Skin,” released January 15, tackles the relevant and painful issues of police-sparked violence against Black people through the eyes of an army veteran who seeks justice after an officer shot his unarmed son during a routine traffic stop that was anything but routine. Sound painfully familiar?

That’s because this fictional movie is not fiction at all. It’s based on the true-life stories of countless Black Americans and inspired by real events and from the life of actor Nate Parker, who wrote, directed, and starred in “American Skin.”

The hour-and-a-half movie draws you in from the beginning to end and the movie trailer does it incredible justice, too. There’s also a moment (as seen in the trailer) that pays homage to Malcolm X and his iconic pose with a rifle staring out a window.

As I watched the movie, I was nervous, mourned, got angry, and wanted to see the antagonists dealt with. There was a “come to Jesus moment” but also pervasive, senseless violence from those sworn to protect on my TV screen — just like I saw in real life last year and in years prior. A wave of unsettled anger due to years of injustice bubbled up and stayed, long after the ending credits. And the idea of the lead character trying to right what’s wrong (the best way he knew how) gave me a feeling of slight relief. Why? Because although it was fictitious, it felt like the shoe was finally on the other foot — it’s about time.

Because how many times should Black boys, girls, women, and men die? Die at the hands of police on the streets, in their own beds, minding their Black business before justice actually gets served? We still want justice. We still want peace.

The movie is worth watching because while we see this movie unfold in real life, and real-time, time and time again, it is a good reminder that this conversation on race, (there’s only one race the human race), police brutality, injustice, and prejudice is far from over. Meaningful conversations need to happen, ones where regardless of whether the parties agree or not, respect should be at the root of it all. And hopefully, peace, compassion and understanding can be planted and grow from there.

When watching the movie I also thought about my own experiences. And how as a Black woman when I’ve been stopped by the police I felt concerned for my safety, and although I knew I did nothing wrong I still was nervous, DWB. I would do a quick check and ponder if my dress (headscarf sometimes, braids other times) came across a certain way to them that might warrant an arrest or mistreatment. That shouldn’t be a flicker in my mind but it is — this is the state that we live in. But of course, not all cops are bad. Not all cops are killers or racist. There are good ones out there, decent people who uphold the badge with honor. But they weren’t portrayed per se in that movie. And in my real life when I’m pulled over at the moment I don”t know which kind of cop is coming to my window. But I digress.

This movie was a stark reminder that justice is not always on our side. And that art imitates life, and, Black lives still matter.

Black lives matter during this month, and every day. And like I do 365 days a year, I celebrate the beauty of my people. And tell my children about our people. The ethereal, intangible, unimaginableness of our strength. Our captivating resilience. Our creative spirits (still despite it all) and our unwillingness to quit. You are loved and cherished. Thank you, strong brothers and sisters, for your joy that seeps from your souls and helps keep the world moving another day. I see you and love us for it.

Watch the trailer below via Movie Coverage.


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