Black life in the United States is riddled with trauma that is fundamental to how their narratives have been told. White men specifically have historically felt a need to control the black man's narrative. As a result, black men have been the victims of extrajudicial lynchings in cases spurred by irrational white anxiety. Today, lynch mobs are replaced by police but the actions express the same sentiment. We are supposed to believe that black men are our biggest threat while simultaneously asserting dominance and suppressing their power.
Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney wrote In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue—a stage play adapted into the Academy Award-winning film Moonlight. McCraney's script challenges the audience to consider who a black boy is if he isn’t a stereotype, a façade. Looking Blue shows who they are when they aren't pressured to fulfill or consciously reject what society expects of them. The result is otherworldly, both because of its rarity and splendor.
With the depiction of college-aged men, mostly first-year college students, Looking Blue interrogates the ethics of projecting stereotypes onto such a population. While navigating life at the intersection of adolescence and adulthood, black boys are forced to stagger through the terrain and narratives that come with their identity, thus searching for the socially acceptable ways to be black. My identity as a black woman inherently rejects the existing narrative and offers a portrayal of black men that does not come from fear or misunderstanding—a portrayal that is fitting for digestion among black boys.