“What if you could walk through a day in the life of an average African American young man? What would you see? What would you hear? What would you face? We wanted to redefine the whole narrative and allow everybody to step into these shoes.”Wale
Like the Invisible Knapsack, there’s a lot to unpack here. I’m not going to pretend to recognize everything that goes on in the video but I will take note of some of the things I had noticed that have been presented. Below is a list of things I, a white person, noticed about the struggles of being a minority that were depicted in the video:
- The main character is a white male who lives with his mom and younger brother. He and his younger brother sleep in the same bed, a mattress on the floor.
- The older brother takes care of the younger brother because mom has to go to work and dad is not around.
- Overheard on the news: “White on white crime is up 40%… The situation is slowly slipping out of control. The streets are getting more dangerous everyday.”
- Black people are displayed on everyday products like toothpaste and oatmeal.
- Jesus is black.
- The family lives in a high rise apartment building, typically occupied by the lower class.
- Everyday media, such as advertisements and newspaper headlines/articles, depict white people as the troublemakers and black people as the good guys. The media also tends to encourage the separating of races and is often discriminatory to white people.
- Advertisement: WhitePeopleMeet.com
- “Meet Basic White Singles”
- Advertisement: Cheap divorce lawyers where the lawyers pictured are black.
- “Break Up Your White Family”
- Subway poster: “New Yorkers Work Together To Stop White On White Crime”
- Subway poster: “Mayor Blackberg is tough on crime”
- The Mayor, and presumably most politicians, are black.
- Newspaper headline: “Mayor Balckberg Declared Victory In White Community; Unemployment Comes Down 14%”
- Newspaper headline: “10 Ways To Celebrate White History Month”
- Newspaper headline: “The Horror That Happened In Central Park”
- Retold the story of the Central Park 5 as if the victims were black and the assailants were white.
- Billboard for home security: “Protect Your Home From Super Predators”
- A white person is shown robbing a house.
- Shoutout Billary Clinton
- Advertisement: WhitePeopleMeet.com
- Re-enactment of the racial incident in Starbucks as if it were to happen to white people.
- The incident is video tapped and posted on social media calling the white people “thugs.”
- Older brother visits dad in jail
- Most of the people in the jail are white and most of the guards are black.
- A poster inside the jail shows the mugshot of a white kid with the headline “Youth Violence”
- The dad expresses disinterest in hoping to get out of jail early.
- “There’s no hope for people that look like us, OK? I got four more years left, alright? We came here to play chess, let’s play chess.” – the dad
- “White goes first” – the son
- This is actually true. In chess, typically, whoever is the white pieces moves first and the person who is the black pieces goes second. I don’t really play chess, so I didn’t even know this until I watched this video.
- Throughout the video, black people are dressed in formal clothing and white people are dressing in informal clothing. Black people are also depicted as the higher class and white people as the lower class.
The ending is a real video taken by someone in jail talking about being in jail during the Coronavirus pandemic. The video ending shows:
- There’s a tent on the basketball court that stores the dead bodies from Coronavirus.
- A prisoner talks about the CARE Act which is supposed to release people who are: not sick, not a gang member, not a sexual offender, and not on death row. These prisoners were supposed to be released on home confinement but it doesn’t sound like many people are being released because of the act.
- The nurse told him half of the people in the jail may die because of Coronavirus.
- The prisoner is worried about dying in jail even though he only has one year left on his sentence.
The entire video is essentially a series of microaggressions that repeatedly reinforce to the main character that they are in the minority and they are lesser than those in the majority. The main character is constantly reminded that white people and black people are different, only this time white people are in the minority.
I’m not really sure why I laid it all out like this. I guess it helps me digest it all and also gain an understanding of mostly what the writer/director is trying to portray in the video. Hopefully it will help you gain an understanding of the video as well, no matter your race.
Below are some tweets from Wale and director Kerby Jean-Raymond to give some extra perspective on the video.