Queen And Slim, A Must See Oscar Contender, Is The Standard For Depicting Black Love As Resistance To White Supremacy

This week, a video has been circulated of an incident that happened last week (see Instagram @taheerahrashad). Taheerah Rashad, a Black high school junior, was accosted by an old white racist woman in the hallway of the building where Taheera lived as she tried to go to school.  The racist woman (whose name is not yet known) physically blocked Taheerah from leaving her home, a simple act that all high school students, including myself, do every day.  Doing that simple act of merely existing, trying to get an education, subjected Taheerah  to the full weight of white supremacy, masked in the facade of a supposed white “Nana” (the name that the racist’s grandchild kept calling her as he implored her to let Taheerah go) who has slave catcher fantasies.

I thought of this recent incident, and what it says about the state of Black life in America, as I sat down to prepare my review of Queen & Slim, which stars Daniel Kaluuya as Slim and Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen.  Queen and Slim are on their very first date and while on their way home, a police officer targets them for what was supposed to be a traffic stop. The police officer harasses Queen and Slim, who at the time, are not really a couple, and violates every veil of their privacy until Queen, a lawyer, questions the legality of the stop and search, while Slim tries to negotiate for his life. The officer, finding his reason to hurt Black people, pulled out his gun and shoots Queen  in the leg which causes Slim to reflexively try to protect her and stop the out of control officer.  An intense struggle ensues and a single shot is fired. The racist officer who had planned to murder two young Black people who were simply trying to go home from a first date was shot instead.  This drama unfolds at the beginning of the film, but the journey has just begun.

Lena Waithe, who wrote the screenplay, and Director Melina Matsoukas, have done a masterful job of taking the viewer on Queen and Slim’s journey as the couple, forced together by random and tragic circumstances, try to navigate the new situation they are in.  The viewer does not simply witness this journey, but the viewer actually become a part of it all: their daring escapes, their encounters through the Midwest and Southern states as they seek a refuge and most crucially, their instances of joy and love, all of which were true depictions of Black Joy, Black Love and Black Resistance.

I was anticipating Queen & Slim’s release because it looked like it would be an instant classic film.  When I first saw the trailer for Queen & Slim, I was overjoyed because I knew that the film was not meant for the white gaze like other movies involving Black people or our struggle. While of course others can come along for the ride, this movie is for Black people, by Black people, which is why this movie feels so — is so — authentic. There are times when some of the supporting characters use the “N” word, however it does not feel overused or forced like when white people incorporate the word into their films. Everything in Queen & Slim feels deliberate and necessary, unlike the typical movies and television shows that have long drawn out scenes with often white characters that you wish could be deleted.  Crucially, however, this film shows a different narrative from the typical Black struggle love genre or Black struggle in general.  This film shows us fighting back!  A very welcome story to tell, because we know that we live it everyday.  Queen & Slim reminds us that living fully is also an act of resistance.  For instance, in the film, there were plenty of people willing to help Queen and Slim on their journey in various different ways – be it through offering shelter, food, a complimentary drink or space to dance freely on a dance floor — because they understood the main characters’ experience.

There are not a lot of films out there, at least what I have observed, that show Black people coming together as a collective to fight back against oppression.  Queen & Slim shows this beautifully and I believe this movie should be the standard for all people who want to write or make films about the Black struggle.

This movie is great because it is not for the white gaze. It is an important movie about how Black people come together to fight racism in the modern age, the importance of continuing to love and live, despite and especially because of the everyday obstacles that one may face as Black people in society, whether that obstacle happens due to larger systems of injustice, randomly or both.  What happened to Taheerah Rashad was a violent injustice and she righteously fought back against her oppressor.  Queen and Slim also fought back by choosing to live.   Queen & Slim will be a classic, iconic film.  It is a clear Oscar contender and should be seen by everyone.