The movie American Son (2019), is a more recent movie that has very noticeable systemic and racial injustices throughout it. The movie is particularly about an African American mother (Kendra Conner) and her separated white husband (Steven Conner) who are at a police station unaware of their son’s (Jamal Conner) whereabouts after he had left the house the night before after a fight with his mother. Where the racism and injustice comes into play is with the police officer (Paul Larkin) who makes several remarks to Kendra, about Jamal, before her husband gets there. Officer Larkin continually says things implying that Jamal is a bad kid because he is black. Officer Larkin asks Kendra several questions that are stereotypically asked for black men, even though Jamal is a straight A student and is at the top of his class. Officer Larkin asks questions such as, if Jamal has had any past run-ins with the law, if he has ever stolen anything, if he had any “street names”, if he was part of any gangs, and if he has ever been caught with drugs. However, the racists remarks do not stop at officer Larkin, but continue further when Kendra’s separated husband arrives. As Steven goes about to say that Jamal has been talking with “black slang” and has been wearing his pants low like a “gangster”. Mr. Conner goes on to state that him and Mrs. Conner did not spend “over a quarter million dollars to send Jamal to a private high-school for him to become a thug like the rest of the black folk”. This type of systemic racism and racist remarks made towards Jamal and his mother made me think of a few correlations between this movie, and readings we have had thought the semester. One of the readings being Hegel’s The Master-Slave Dialect. The reason I thought about this reading is because of officer Larkin’s way of talking and the way he wanted to assert that he was “in-charge” or rather the “master” of the situation. The other reading that I thought really related to Kendra Conner was Gayatri Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?”. I thought this reading really related because it felt like Mrs. Conner was the subaltern the entire movie and was being talked down on, and was treated as if she was lesser than the two white men. One thing I think the creator of the movie really wants the audience to take away after watching the film is how this occurrence happens more often then not with police and African American men and women. The creator wants the audience to think about how this is just one example of how African Americans are treated in society and I think they want the audience to ask themselves how they can help change and make a difference in police brutality and systemic injustice.
Movie Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hVIPdQDGmc
Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbKZlSwAS3M