I’m a little bit ashamed yet so eager to say that the newly released movie Judas & the Black Messiah portraying parts of the life of Fred Hampton aka the Black Panther civil rights activist who was shot dead whilst sleeping (#BreyonnaTaylor) was a go for me and here’s why.
A recent report published by NY Times reveals that Hollywood loses a mind blowing (to white minds, cos we all ready know we got coins to spend where it’s wanted & appreciated!) 10 billions every year. How do they loose it? By being ignorant and not allowing real representation to take place. The blunt disregard for black creators, curators, voices and stories to be told in picture movies constantly leaves us with black history being told through white perspectives. Judas & the black Messiah is no different because even though it’s created by black writers and directors it still fails to tell the full story of Mr Hampton who they chose to entitle as “the black Messiah”. A title used by FBI in fear of a uprising and uniting of black Americans calling for their human rights. It also falls short on showing more of the good deeds curated by the panthers, deeds until now providing much needed basic necessities for the marginalized people of America. The historic “rainbow coalition” isn’t highlighted as one would hope given the positive impact and power it had to unite people of color in America.
For this I’m sorry for the coming lines of this article. I still recommend everyone to watch this movie and here’s why…
Daniel Kaluuya an outstanding actor who has portrayed and given black men a voice through his art in movies such as Get out, The Black Panther and Queen & Slim, stars as Mr Hampton and does it perfectly. For his achievements in embodying the Black Messiah he was recently awarded with multiple awards such as a Golden globe award, Critics choice award and SAG award. Daniel was also nominated for an Academy award as well as a BAFTA award for the same role.
Unfortunately the movie doesn’t show us enough of it’s own hero and we who know more of Mr Hampton is left wanting to see more of his work visualized in the film. The makers instead falls on a few highlights that are made into real candid gems as Daniel who is no stranger to playing complex roles managed to give Fred the honor we lacked in scripting and saves up the narrative of Mr Fred Hampton.
His wife is played by Dominique Fishback who for me is unknown prior to seeing her capturing the role of one of the black civil rights movement most important women, Deborah Johnson. I’m happy to see the only central black woman in the film be portrayed in everything else but the stereotypes Hollywood likes to put us in. Dominique is intelligent, witty, stands her ground but not made angry, feminine without being made promiscuous and quite frankly just the Queen we want and need to see in 2021 after everything black women have been through! If I didn’t know who Dominique Fishback was before, her work as Deborah Johnson damn sure has made me read up on her now and if you just as I didn’t know who this talented actress is you can catch her in The hate you give and The Deuce. Dominique wasn’t short of nominations for her work of art either, she was nominated for a BAFTA award, Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards and a Critics Choice Awards.
My last reason for loving this film despite the reason I felt it fell short is the villain of the matter, Judas. Or as his real name is William O’Neal who is played by Lakeith Stanfield (Selma, Straight outta Compton & The Photograph). I have to admit that I was low key mad for the casting crew to cast Lakeith as the villain as he is one of my favorite actors and I didn’t wanna sit at the end of the movie feeling any types of ways towards him. Yes I know “it’s just a movie” but Lakeith has a way of making everything so real and that’s how talented he is on screen! The academy agrees with me as he was nominated for an award for this role.
Lakeith makes it easy to be mad at Mr O’Neal then impossible to stay mad at him, even though we have all the reasons to be furious. Instead he makes us see America, Americans and their justice system for what it is; corrupt, misleading, racist and always petting people of color against each other. All with the law on their side. And Lakeith makes us feel the hurt as he becomes one of black history’s most infamous sell outs. A pain so intense and a betrayal so deep William O’Neal actually tried to kill himself and then unfortunately succeeded in committing suicide. It goes to show how much compromising and pain black people have to cope with in order to survive, it’s the real life story of “it’s me or you, both of us can’t make it out alive” and that hurts to see because we know it’s true and we know it’s real life reality up to this day. But we have to see it, remember it and know it. Only then can we change it and eventually stop it from being so. And Judas & the Black Messiah reminds of that!
Judas & The Black Messiah premiered in February and can be seen in theaters across the world as well as on HBO. If you’re in Sweden the film can be seen in selected theaters, click here to find out more.