AN ANALYSIS OF DUVERNAY’S “WHEN THEY SEE US” THROUGH THE LENS OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY
Uwode, Ejiro Favour
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The film series, When They See Us, has been the most popular four part mini-series on Netflix since its release in 2019. It was produced and directed by Ava DuVernay and it touches upon true events that happened in 1989 at Central Park. The series presents the story of five black and brown boys and their brutal experiences in the hands of the American justice system. Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salam, and Antron McCray were all fourteen to sixteen years old when they were accused of raping and brutalizing Trisha Meili at Central Park. DuVernay crafts scenes that are raw and horrifying but points to the lived experiences of people of color in America. The purpose of this thesis was to explore Ava DuVernay’s movie, When They See Us and its portrayal of the bias nature of the criminal justice system in America against people of color. This study sought to explore the connection of microaggressions and racism to police brutality against people of color in the United States. By using both critical race theory and standpoint theory, the study analyzes the experiences of the men of color in the movie as it relates to racism and judicial inequality, and how this directly reflects the experiences of people of color within the American society. Through the analysis of the film, the study found that stereotypes and implicit bias lead to people of color being discriminated against and brutalized by the American justice system at a disproportionate rate. The study also touches on the importance of the unique voice of color and how important education is to people of color in fighting the racism and stereotypes against them in society.