I’m cheering for Moonlight to take home the Oscar for Best Picture this year. I know, my cheering means nothing to the Academy. And yet, I carry on. Because I’m an American. And like an American sport fan,
I like to think that my support means something; at the very least, I feel a camaraderie with other spectators who felt, as I do, that Moonlight is a monumental film that challenges the stereotype of what it means to be a black man in America.
Obvs, I don’t know what it feels like to be a black man in America. However, I do know what it’s like to be a person of color in this country; I know what it feels like to be expected to be an expression of a stereotype—and how sometimes when I don’t fit into the stereotype, people can’t see the parts of me that expand beyond the society-imposed boundaries.
Trevante Rhodes is the actor who plays Chiron in the third and final chapter of the film. Rhodes has mentioned how people have approached him and told him, “this is my story.” HELLO! This is film and creative expression at its finest, and why I want Moonlight to win the Oscar for Best Picture. REPRESENTATION. When I think about all the young black men in this country who see themselves in Chiron, I feel relief that maybe they can stop feeling so alone in their experience.
It’s easy to see a film like Moonlight and summarize the experience by saying something like, “That was intense!” It’s difficult (and I’d say essential to our identities) to slow down and reflect on what the chapters of our own lives look like. We are so conditioned to just consume films with our eyes and move on, so when a film like Moonlight comes along and encourages introspection, many of us feel like our heads might explode.
I think the solution to this is opening our hearts and allowing the tenderness of Moonlight to reach us. We can sit with and reflect on the advice given to Chiron by his surrogate father in the film, played by Mahershala Ali: “At some point you gotta decide for yourself who you gonna be.”