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Slamdance 2021: “The Sleeping Negro”


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

We can all talk about racial injustice, criticizing the white man’s racism that has not ended even in the 21st century. The truth is, how much do we understand the situation if we have not experienced it in the first place? But do we really need to be in such a position to understand it, or it is enough to observe and absorb, to get disgusted by racism and call it a day?

It is a heavy subject matter. We can’t be completely right or wrong but somehow, writer/director/actor Skinner Myers managed to take such a heavy subject and make it even more difficult yet easy to understand no matter which side you stand on the issue. For that, we are introduced to Man (Skinner Myers) who, on his birthday, is floating calmly in a resting position above his bed. Is he dreaming or is it just his imagination? During the day, he meets his boss who gives him a birthday present and asks him, indirectly, to forge a document and enforce an eviction.  

Then, upon arrival at home, an old estranged friend comes to visit him who happens to be a Trump supporter. Both ethnically black, our protagonist gets heavily engaged in the heavy subject of the past, present and future of black Americans in America. The two men see things differently – one, from the point of view of a person, the other based on the color of the skin. While the friend may be wrong on many issues, he points out a few things that will define Man’s day.

“The Sleeping Negro” is not a film you would want to miss. But its concept is what will make you think. A superb character study of a black man, how he sees himself and how he was treated by society, it is surreal yet real and terrifying. The scene where he wears a bulletproof vest before heading towards the eviction highlights a moment of one man who must protect himself from people that see him as a threat, by default, due to the color of his skin. Or the scene with his fiance, the White Woman, “The Sleeping Negro” navigates through the thin line of acceptance and rejection of a very important man who must find his true self through the few self-realization scenes.

Skinner Myers’ character is someone who thinks he exists in society. In reality, he is just allowed to be there on unknown terms for him. The intelligence of the film is on a whole another level. Only fully prepared can you dive into the ocean of misery, truth, rage and anger. All these feelings are well justified in the film, which is beautifully constructed by the talented Skinner Myers, who made an excellent point about what it means to be a Black American in America.

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