this part is from an email i got:
American Violet tells the amazing story of a young, single mother swept up in an unjust, out-of-control drug raid that targets the Black community in a small town in Texas. The film is based on true events and it examines how our country's drug laws and enforcement practices target African-Americans, and how the justice system uses threats and intimidation to steer people towards guilty pleas, regardless of their innocence or the evidence against them.
The film is inspired by the real life story of Regina Kelly, an African-American, single mother of four girls who was arrested in 2000 in a military-style drug raid. The raid resulted in the arrest of nearly 15% of the town's young Black male population for felony cocaine distribution. Kelly was innocent. Her name, along with the names of many others arrested (nearly all African-American), were given to police by a single, highly unreliable informant with personal reasons to antagonize her. Despite Kelly's innocence, she was urged to plead guilty by her family and even her public defender so that she could return to her children and receive a minimal sentence. A felony conviction, however, would have resulted in the loss of her right to vote and the public assistance programs on which her family depended, not to mention the tainting of her personal reputation and her ability to obtain employment. She chose to maintain her plea of not guilty. American Violet tells the story of her fight for justice.
now. for my comment :)
okay, so i loved this movie for a few reasons:
- this is the kind of thing that inspired me to do what i do. fighting the system is a very david and goliath type showdown, which makes it that much sweeter when you win. i hope this movie will inspire other people to pick up their stones and slingshots. . .you don't have to think in victim language.
- in the same vein, i liked this movie because it showed the side of the aclu i like. admittedly, i have a love/hate relationship with the aclu (american civil liberties union). they feel that cases about rights like those at issue here are equal to cases about the kkk's right to freedom of speech/expression--they don't do a balancing act when it comes to the effect of the rights they're protecting. i don't like this because it implies that there are not structural deficiencies in this country's 'rights' system. like all of us have had the same access to our rights for the same amount of time, and like some 'freedom of speech' is nothing more than a terror tactic and actually infringes on other people's rights and is nothing more than oppression itself. . .
- it is educational (and coonery free). it talks about an issue that we seem to overlook in our communities. for some reason we are quick to shun those of us who are 'convicted felons' as if we forget how messed up the system is. 90% of the 2.3 million people in jail are there as a result of a plea bargain--meaning they never went to trial and were never found guilty. and you know how easy it is to convince a scared, oppressed, innocent person to plead guilty to something just so they can go home/have a reduced sentence? they are thinking that if they could get arrested and they're innocent, they could also get convicted, apply some pressure and mind games . . .and bingo! instant win for the prosecutor and innocent person's life is forever changed.
- it doesn't glamorize the reality--the evil, racist, inept, vengeful district attorney who was the one causing the problems for this town was re-elected, despite the turnout of this case. it shows that everyone doesn't appreciate justice the way some people do, it shows that there's a reason the status quo exists. we shouldn't be discouraged, we should be appalled and fight harder. . .
- it also showed that there are a lot of factors that go into someone accepting a plea bargain, such as pressure from their families--their families know how to hit where it hurts in terms of persuasiveness, and sometimes that is enough to do away with the little fight the defendant has. this is just another manifestation of the short-sightedness/instant gratification problem that plagues our community a classic dialogue in the movie was (this is me paraphrasing after only seeing it once, sorry. lol):
momma: "girl that's for the afterlife. . .for the here and now you better take that plea"
- it also shows a side of black america that people may have wanted to forget now that our beloved president is in office. this case took place in 2002, but things like this are still happening. i cannot miss this moment to drive home the fact that "the dream" has not been realized just bc we have a black first family. the reality for too many people is that their communities are suffering from institutional, pervasive racism. poor black people are still targets. and contrary to what tyler perry may lead to you believe, a good man, some preaching and violent gestures from a man in a dress don't solve all the problems black women face. . .
- why did the black attorney spend most of the movie looking like a scared run away slave?? i was too through with him. it's a good thing he redeemed himself at the end :)
- i ♥ alfre woodard as a mother. i mean, she is great as a sanaa lathan mommy, but i just love her in any role where she gets to get a mommy attitude with her daughter. lol
- the main actress was such a good casting decision. she was touching and convincing. i hope we get to see more of her (hopefully in a movie where she can wear cuter clothes)
- and of course i loved the little girls, they were so cute and that oldest one was super convincing too (and did a good job of showing who suffers the most from these kinds of things)
- exzibit (sp?) as an actor. . .hmmm. he did pretty well. i'm not sure how much of a stretch the character was for him. maybe he was just that good that it seemed natural (glad he got rid of the cornrows tho. lol)