When They See Us: A Review

by Chantal Kapani

2020 has become the year that as a society, we are finally educating ourselves on the #BlackLiveMatter. People are indulging themselves in books, films, documentaries, anything on the subject matter, they are educating themselves on it. If you are one of these people. I highly recommend, ‘When they see us’, that is available on Netflix.

The writer-Director Ava Duvernay depicts the wrongly convicted handful of five teenage boys, black and Hispanic from Harlem, in four mind-blowing episodes. The central park five – Korey wise, Kevin Richardson, Antron Mckay, Yusef Saalam, and Raymond Santana – ranging from the ages of 14 to 16, wrongfully accused and convicted for the violent sexual assault of Trisha Meli on April 19, 1989. Who did this happen? Some would say the wrong place at the wrong time, but that is far from the truth. NYPD detectives and New York County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors framed these boys and traumatized them into false confessions, without a parent’s supervision or lawyer present. The result was prison time of varying lengths and cruelty for each of them, embedding them in our collective psyche as the Central Park Five. It was easy to point the finger at a handful of ethnically mixed teenagers that were minding their own business in Central five. The show does not excuse the boys who were causing trouble, as Ava Duvernay does not flinch from the truth. The case goes to show how cops have the power to bend the law, use their privilege and power to lazily find a criminal, by accusing the innocent.

This show is a representation of police brutality.

‘When they see us’, is a brutal watch. There is no time to pause for snacks, you will be glued to your seats, with your mouth dropping at every moment, as you think, “Did that really happen? That can’t be real”. Yes, unfortunately, it did and is. Netflix has outdone itself, as, by the end, you will sit back, reflect, and think about what you have just watched, what small snippet of one of many injustice/racism cases. I hope that many others, just like myself, will educate themselves and wash their eyes from privilege to see the abuse, discrimination, and racism that still exists.

Find more of Chantal's work through her Instagram, @ChantalKapani