In Black & Blue—a tale of the stress, strain and danger of being a Black police officer who witnesses police corruption on the job—there’s a moment when Nafessa Williams’ character Missy says of Officer Alicia West (played by Naomie Harris) that “She picked her side.”
With tragic stories of living while Black littering the internet and many headlines of police officers shooting to kill Black people, this film raises a mirror to America’s law enforcement and our society as a whole.
During a special screening of Black & Blue in New York City, ESSENCE got the chance to chat with the cast—including Tyrese Gibson—and director about the film’s parallels to the real world. The star and hero of the movie, Harris, told ESSENCE that she wanted to be a part of this project because of what it says about the relationship between Black people and the police.
“Here is a movie that actually says, ‘No, you can go and be entertained and also speak about things that are socially relevant and encourage dialogue,” says Harris. “This isn’t giving you answers, but it’s saying, please go away and discuss and think about all of these issues that are happening at the moment.”
Black & Blue director Deon Taylor said, “My entire life, I was raised to walk the other way when you see a police officer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had troubles with police officers.”
Not all Black people fear or hate the police. However, when stories like Atatiana Jefferson’s surface—the innocently killed Fort Worth, Texas woman who was killed by the police after they were called to her home for a wellness check—it’s hard to feel protected and served by the boys in blue.
Check out the video above to see dialogue from the cast of Black & Blue around police brutality and corruption in America.