As filmmaker Damon Davis tells it, being black in America comes with anxiety. To survive, he says, you’re constantly walking on eggshells because the way you talk and the clothes on your back can be used as a weapon against you. Davis, co-director of the documentary “Whose Streets,” gives his Brief but Spectacular take on finding courage after the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
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DAMON DAVIS, Filmaker:
There are there are things that you must think about to survive daily being black in America. The neighborhood you’re in. The clothes you got on. The way you talk to people.
Being black is a weapon, you understand? The weight that you carry and the darker your skin is, is so terrifying, that, like, you’re just walking on eggshells your whole life. And the level of anxiety that comes along with that, I don’t know any black person that doesn’t know what I’m talking about.
I had been harassed by police. I had been pulled out of cars, sat on the curbs, humiliated. There’s a huge chunk of the population that this is everyday life for. And think about how, how privileged you must be to not be afraid, every day you walk out of your house. To not be worried about, I’m driving and one of my tail lights is out. Or I’m driving in the wrong neighborhood.
This tally list you have to go through being black in America. I hope people that are finding out about this that actually care, try to use that privilege that they got to do something and make it a little more even for everybody else.
Over the last few years, the trajectory of my life has changed monumentally. And the events of Ferguson and Mike Brown changed my entire life I can honestly say.
“Whose Streets” is a call and response chant that was used out in the streets in St. Louis and in Ferguson. It’s also asking whose streets is it? The police are working for the people, and your rights are to assemble, says the Constitution, whose streets actually are they?
In the trajectory of American history I don’t think things have changed much from three years ago, or 30 years ago, 300 years ago. We’ve been talking for about 200, 300 years. It’s time to take some responsibility, some culpability, and really get uncomfortable.
Think about the everyday role people play in racism. Whether it be locker room jokes that, Thanksgiving dinner jokes, down to systematic and systemic racism in the jobs and roles that people play in it.
You know when they talk about being an alcoholic, the first step to recovery is, acknowledging you have a problem. Well, America has a pretty big problem with doing that, you know? It’s like, why don’t y’all just get over it, you know.
It’s like, but you had a 280-year head start. It’s kind of hard to get over it when people run around the track and then they shoot the gun for you to start. I think until we start talking about that the conversation is a waste of time. You know what I mean? I think it’s — I think it’s, and it’s — and it’s patronizing at this point. It really is. Yes.
My name is Damon Davis and this has been my “Brief But Spectacular” take on courage.