SPOILERS FOR DOPE
Something about the last name Jesus (pronounced the Hispanic way) seems odd when you see the pale white guy behind the likeness-Brendan Jesus: the Irish-Filipino filmmaker. Growing up in elementary school in a [slightly] backwards town I got called the typical Hispanic slurs like spic and wetback. That being said I do not think I have had any real struggles based on my ethnicity, at the same time I have received some racial "bullying," if you would want to call it that. My stepmother is black, and I have received discriminatory remarks towards me about that, but I never let it bring me down. *SEGUE*
I recently had the pleasure of viewing the second teen movie that I have enjoyed in quite a while. Dope is written and directed by visionary artist Rick Famuyiwa, and produced by Pharell, Forest Whitaker, and Sean Combs. This film has many great names behind it, besides just the producers, like A$AP Rocky, Keith Stanfield, and Blake Anderson.
Coming from the background I have, I was taught out of everything that I should love everyone equally (unless they're like Hitler or something like that obviously). It's no doubt America is having a very serious race-relations problem at the moment. Dope is one of those movies which has received all types of criticisms, and no doubt racist critiques. The one thing this movie tries to accomplish is to show the very real racial divide in America, and the troubles of growing up in Inglewood.
The scene I connected with the most (and where I actually teared up) is Malcolm's final monologue. Malcolm speaks for all black people when he looks at the camera and opens his mouth.
"Let me tell you about two students..."
Malcolm describes in explicit detail who he is as a person. Student A gets good grades, is in a punk band, Student B is a drug dealer, all that stuff.
"...now close your eyes."
Malcolm then challenges us to look at him, to take in his appearance. He is standing on a concrete island in the middle of a street when he poses one of his two very important questions:
"Now open your eyes. Which [student] am I?"
We know who he is because we just witness everything he has done over the past few weeks. But just from his look what can we gather? Nothing. We could tell he has a flat top and likes denim, but that's it. He is challenging America/Americans. He is asking do you really think you can judge someone on how they look and derive where they will go to college, how they make their money, how they spend their money, you cannot tell much about someone by the way they look. Unless they're wearing a swastika or a rebel flag, you don't know if they are a good or bad person. (The opposite of what is going on in America today)
"I don't fit in."
Malcolm states how he does not fit in. He does not fit the generic slots allotted to him by society and modern culture. He is saying I never have or will fit in how society wants me to because this is a new generation. We are the generation who can change everything. We could put a huge dent in racism if we really try, we can reform as a country if we really try, we just ALL need to work together.
"So who am I? Let me reintroduce myself..."
Malcolm reintroduces himself to us, just as he is about to ask the most pressing question of the entire film. Remember how hard he words at trying to get into Harvard, and how his principal actively tells him, "not everyone goes on to be president."
"So why do I want to attend Harvard...? If I was white would you have to ask me that question?"
Boom. Drop the microphone. I don't think much more needs to be said on this anymore. Malcolm says, in 12 words, more than any modern day speech of civil rights I have ever personally heard in my lifetime.
Here is the question I want to pose: