Blindspotting ★★★★★

There have been multiple great movies this year that frame Oakland as the center of contemporary urban life to show how strongly people of color are affected by systemic issues like colonization, capitalism, gentrification, the prison system, and crime. Each does a great job of not just trying to paint Oakland as a bullet-ridden battleground, the way Republicans choose to depict Chicago whenever it’s convenient– they paint the city as it is: colorful, vibrant, exciting, communal, full of love, full of humor, full of people. They do this because they love Oakland, and understand that, like any city, Oakland is not the sum of its issues, it’s the sum of its people and the way they fight against said issues. It’s the ideal American capital, and Blindspotting makes me feel heartsick for it. Even though I have never really been, and am not from there. 

Blindspotting is tensescary, heart-wrenching, terrifying, maddening, and worrisome, but it is not a tragedy. It’s also hilarious, sweet, contemplative, lovely, and poetic (both literally and figuratively.) It renders a passion in me for a city I’ve only seen in layovers, for people I’ve only known as punchlines or convenient political pawns, for families I’ve never known and communities I’ve never been a part of. As the movie wrapped up, I wracked my brain trying to think of movies I could compare it to (Spike Lee’s Friday is the best I could do) (to clarify, that is to say “If Spike Lee made Friday”) but any comparison I could make would only sell Blindspotting as an after-school special about the streets when it’s so much more.

I’m still coming down from this. My body feels like it’s on fire. I want to sink into a bath until my bones stop shaking and my head stops spinning– but more than that, I want to feel this picture of Oakland. When I started watching Detroiters (absolute funniest show on television, go watch it) I was stunned to see how wonderful a punchline city like Detroit could seem when depicted by people who truly love it and refuse to let it be rendered by privileged jokesters who only see crime, car commercials, and poverty. I remember the screener for Bigelow’s Detroit coming in the mail and refusing to watch it because I didn’t want to see an outsider portray “my city” (also have never been, also am not from) as a city of terror and tragedy. After Black Panther, Sorry To Bother You, and Blindspotting, Oakland is going in the same pocket.  These are my people. These are my problems. This is my country, and as such, Oakland is my heart.

Again, never been, am not from.

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