Parents' Guide to

Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. Is the Answer

By John Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Powerful but dated docu strikes hopeful tone.

Movie NR 2017 89 minutes
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Thankfully, this documentary is well done, and primarily this is because it doesn't try to do anything complicated. Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. is the Answer is very straightforward in what it tries to do. First, it firmly and unquestionably establishes that there's a problem and that if you cannot accept this fact, then you're simply being willfully blind to it. Personal stories and testimonies from both survivors of police brutality and from police officers themselves share their experiences, often to heartbreaking effect. If anything, people need to watch this kind of truth-telling and #ownvoices project, if even only to show and remind people that police all over the country take the lives of Black people in many different ways. Police officers murder Black people, unjustly send the innocent to prison, racially profile, go to poor neighborhoods to up their arrest count, beat, restrain, and hurt Black people because they don't see them as people, and many police officers lie about their racism, behavior, and wrongdoing. So, yes, there's a problem. Secondly, the film transitions to a tone of hope and positivity, which is great and all, but this perspective also dates this docu as it was made 3 years prior to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. So, even though the message of this film is a hopeful one from 2017, since then, arguably, people are justifiably only more upset, less trusting of the police, and calling for the outright defunding of police departments across the country. Thus, this film's hopeful message of getting the police to do what they need to do so people can trust them again falls a little flat.

The other question that's hard to answer is how a film like this would change the mind of someone who outright rejects the notion of there being a problem in the first place. It probably wouldn't, but at least documentaries like this can be shown to older kids and teens who don't know about history and/or who might live in predominantly White communities. The film also helps give the police (the good ones at least, who acknowledge the problem and desire change) a voice, and many police officers and ex-police officers interviewed model what good police officers should be.

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