Dawgelene “Dr Dawj” Sangster- Growing up in the Englewood community in Chicago, there are stereotypes placed on its residents before people even get to know them. Having been born and raised there, I know first hand how people can label you by your zip code and address before you even speak a word. From my experience, there were many single parent households and it was a sense of pride when two-parent households were found. There was also a sense of community and support for others that are not always depicted in the media or conversations in referencing the African American community. I also know that there are many young African American girls and boys that have big dreams and are not out selling drugs or hanging out on street corners, like it is often depicted in the media. Recently I watched a movie by filmmaker Mark Harris called Black Butterfly that was a painful reality of what many young girls and women experience, but also a snapshot of what true family life and unity is like in the African American community, when we come together to support one another.
When first watching the film, I was pleased with the exhibit of a two-parent household in the African American community with parents working and sitting down for dinner with their children. Oftentimes, we are not portrayed as a well-to-do family so it was refreshing to see a Black mother and father supporting their children and taking care of their family. When events began to unfold in the movie, I began to relate to what happened to “Butterfly” from personal experiences and her attitude; being disconnected, sheltered, internalizing what happened, depressed, feeling at fault, and not wanting to be touched by a male. I was also able to relate to her thoughts of suicide during that time because I felt like there was no reason to go on in life and didn’t think that anyone cared.
During the movie, there were several scenes that stood out like the analogy of the leaf that personally symbolized the idea of “never giving up”. When we think of a leaf, it doesn’t know what the future holds, but it will still grow and transform until its life cycle ends. There was a part when a character’s father told him that it was OK to cry and embraced him, which exhibited the strength of many Black men and their commitment to fatherhood. There was a moment when the victim’s mother explained how many victims feel when they have been sexually violated and what goes through their minds, which is a very important part of the movie. There were several “puppy love” scenes between two of the main characters and them wanting to save themselves for marriage, which showed that not all teens are having sex, and also promoted abstinence until marriage. There were many parts of the movie that hit home but that was also important teaching moments for young boys and girls of today.
“Black Butterfly is a powerful movie that touched on so many realities of today like rape, family support, suicide, depression, fear, lying, faith, special needs, love and unity. It shows that while so many women are able to move beyond the pain eventually and live a purposeful life, oftentimes they are not. When they are not able to move forward, what do we, as a community, do about it? Black Butterfly is a MUST SEE movie with a talented group of actors: Mahogany Monae, Keeland Ellis, Richard Gallion, Sheree Bynum and Lionel Gentle. I even caught a glimpse of Dwayne Hirsch and Shanara Sanders. Director Mark Harris did a great job with this movie that brings home so many important topics that should be discussed, especially with younger girls that may not understand their options in having a voice and a choice.
Purchase the movie here