Being Black Enough or (How to Kill a Black Man)

| June 10, 2017

Devin Rice Studios is honored to announce the World Premiere of Devin Rice’s Being Black Enough or (How to Kill a Black Man) at the 20th Dances With Films Festival.  Based on writer-director-star Devin Rice’s youth in Los Angeles, the semi-autobiographical drama touches on what it means to “be Black,” how race is seen through the eyes of different people and groups and the consequences of these perspectives.  Being Black Enough will premiere at Dances With Films at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters June 10th.

On the genesis of his directorial debut, Rice said, “Being Black Enough is a very personal film, laced with my own life experience. All throughout my childhood, even up to today, I was made fun of for not being ‘Black Enough’. This, based on the clothes I’ve worn, the way I speak, my interests in life. Not just from White or Black people, but from people from all walks of life. Everyone seems to have this idea of what it means to be ‘Black’. This unspoken thing that’s understood all throughout America. It’s like self-perpetuating slavery without chains.”

Rice felt the need to make this project after he saw the increasing news coverage of Black men being shot by the police. “It made me frustrated and very angry…What if that was me who got shot by the police?” Shortly after Rice wrote the script and he and his producing partner Jacqueline Corcos crowdfunded the film. They ended up making it for a meager budget and wore nearly all the filmmaking hats themselves, inspired by films like El Mariachi and Clerks.

This film is a great look at the torment, I believe, that some young Black men face, when they feel as if they have to “represent,” or conform to what is out there in the way of portrayals of Black men through media outlets, i.e., videos, Hip Hop music, movies that are centered on gang life or just a glimpse into one segment of Black society–that of people who are struggling and Black men who have chosen a life of crime in order to feed themselves and/or their families.

Cody, played by Rice, is well out of his league by trying to immerse himself in his cousin’s lifestyle. His cousin deals drugs and hangs out with a gang of men who represent all the negative trappings of dealing drugs–there’s always some battle with rival gangs and drug dealers and ultimately the police.

I do understand Rice’s frustration with how things are playing out in many Black communities across the nation–it seems brothers can’t get a break, not good enough to turn some negative aspects in their lives around to productive moves. In my opinion, if Black men early are exposed to great educational experiences and loving homes and communities, they should be able to avoid the traps that Being Black Enough or (How to Kill a Black Man) presents. The movie shows in the end that Cody trying to shed his “white-guy” persona, which is really just him living a slightly better life in a better neighborhood in California and in college, is not the best idea for him. His cousin even tries to make him go back to reality, because Cody is really looking and sounding silly trying to act “gangsta.” However, I would submit that many youth go through these periods of wanting to fit into a mold that just isn’t for them.

The message from this movie would be for Black men to do better in how they represent themselves; media to try harder to find positive images and profiles of Black men and for those brothers who are on the path to productive lives to stay on that path. Finally, however, just because a Black man is on the straight and narrow and does everything by the book, this certainly doesn’t mean that he won’t find himself at the end of a gun, being held by a police officer or some thug. But at least, if one is trying to live on the “up and up,” he has a better chance of surviving what can sometimes be described as this hell hole known as life.

For more information about Being Black Enough or (How to Kill a Black Man), visit https://danceswithfilms.com/being-black-enough/

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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