Have you seen the first look trailer for the movie “Queen and Slim” directed by Melina Matsoukas (executive producer of HBO’s Insecure) and written by the Emmy-award winning Lena Waithe?
If not, check this out:
So the movie looks like it starts with two good-looking chocolatey folks played by Jodie Turner-Smith (Nightflyers) and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out and Black Panther) playing the title characters, respectively, on an awkward first date. Queen tells him she agreed to go on the date because he looked sad in his photo and she felt sorry for him, eliciting a response like:
They seem to be hitting it off, because the next scene is them in the car together, talking about what they could be doing next (each other) and it’s not buying joint Ancestry DNA tests to find out what African country produced that beautiful bounty of brown they call their melanin.
Then in this fictional tale, the narrative borrows from reality when they’re pulled over by a police officer claiming Slim was swerving while driving. Now, whether or not this was true doesn’t matter to the story as a whole because the most accurate part of these events is the fact that two Black people minding their business had their night interrupted by a white police officer. The situation escalates and the cop pulls a gun on Slim and we can’t help but feel like we know what’ll happen next. We’ve seen it happen in all kinds of true life cases (Philando Castile, Terrence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, and countless others) and we’ve seen the results splashed across our social media feeds. Those men didn’t make it and their killers have essentially been freed, some even to return to the line of duty.
Things turn out differently for Slim though, who once he saw the officer point the gun at Queen threatening to arrest her too (so Slim was being arrested for…swerving? Since when was that illegal…oh wait, he’s Black, that’s when) acted out of fear, wrestled the gun from the officer and shot him.
Now I’m not advocating for the slaying of police officers and I’m not going to applaud that killing, but there is a part of me that enjoyed seeing the unarmed Black person NOT die for once. Yes, it came at the cost of the life of someone else, but I will always root for the lives of and the right for Black people to live freely before I mourn the deaths of those who would systematically put an end to those Black lives.
And then it hits me that this story isn’t entirely real. It’s such a fantastical rendering of a real-life situation that there’s no way our lead characters get to just go home and wait to be put on administrative leave to eventually be exonerated. Instead, they immediately go on the run to escape the law. Because Queen and Slim got to live, a rare result we see with these traffic stops, they have no choice but to abandon their lives and flee. The brief moment of respite we have from seeing Black bodies riddled with bullets after a traffic stop playing on repeat on our phones and computers is just as quickly spiked back down into a reality where the justice system is set up to punish Black people, and more harshly, for any kind of crime. These two must absolutely pay for what they did and be set as examples that the one time you actually get to survive an officer-involved shooting, you don’t get to be free.
But since this story is made for us and by us, I hope it ends with Queen and Slim staying out of jail, living together on the run and the people searching for them dying mad about it.
I can’t wait to go see it.
Queen and Slim comes out November 27, 2019.