Living in Europe, hearing about gun violence in America, especially the killing of black men by police, is a mind-numbing thing. There are crimes in Europe, but very few relating to guns and even fewer relating to police and citizen altercations. #FreeRayshawn is a story of a black man on the run from the police, and it is as potent as anything you see on TV.
I want to make this clear; I do not live in America, so I cannot attest to the police killing of black men and minorities. The news I see is either filtered through liberal-leaning media or sometimes unbiased reporting, so my views are a little skewed when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement and police accountability cause.
But still, as an observer, there are some problematic things about how policing is done in America. I myself have interacted with the police twice in the last year, and never for a second was I afraid of being killed by the Police. Full disclosure, I am non-white; still, the police interactions were friendly, which is in contrast to what we all see in the news about American police.
#FreeRayshawn is a show about black people’s plight and how a single incident escalates to the point of warfare between minorities in America with those in power. As the stylization of the title suggests, the show is also about the use of the internet for activism and raising the voice, which is also happening currently in America and most other democratic countries.
What is #FreeRayshawn About? The Plot of the Quibi Series
— Quibi (@Quibi) August 29, 2020
#FreeRayshawn is about an Iraq war veteran who did two tours as a special force. Rayshawn is living in New Orleans with his wife and son, trying to make ends meet after leaving the military. In his desperation, Rayshawn gets entangled with some cops and ends up barricading himself in his home with his wife and son, saying the police framed him.
While locked in his home, hiding from the police, Rayshawn uses the internet to spread his words and get people to bring the DA to the location so he can explain his side of the story. But things get even more complicated when heavily armed SWAT arrives on the scene.
But there is one hope for Rayshawn and his family, a sympathetic Lieutenant played by Lawrence Fishburne, trying to protect the family and get to the truth. Will he make it out of his home alive, or will Rayshawn just be another black man shot and killed by the police in America; that is the tense story of Quibi series #FreeRayshawn.
The Reason You Need to Watch #FreeRayshawn
I do not like my news in my entertainment, as is probably the case with most of the people here. Entertainment is supposed to be escapism; somewhere I can unwind after a long day. But we live in a fluid world now, and most of our news and social causes have started to bleed into our entertainment.
Take the recent shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. After the video was made public of Blake getting shot seven times, the NBA players boycotted the playoffs. The same was the case when the police murdered George Floyd on 25 May, NBA players almost decided not to complete the season.
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We cannot escape what is happening in the world by simply watching a show anymore. No matter how uncomfortable it is, we need to see the plight and suffering of each and every one. Burying our heads in the sand is not going to achieve anything, which is why #FreeRayshawn is an essential piece of social commentary we all need to experience.
For someone vehemently opposed to movie length production being chopped into 15 10-minute (or less) episodes, #FreeRayshawn worked perfectly on Quibi. With each episode ending in a cliffhanger, the only trouble was switching between episodes; otherwise, #FreeRayshawn was a claustrophobic portrayal of being non-white in America.
Moving performances with power.
— Sony Pictures Television (@SPTV) August 29, 2020
Antoine Fuqua’s sure-handed direction, along with Stephan James’ terrified/angry Rayshawn, was the driving force for #FreeRayshawn. But it was Jasmine Cephas Jones’ portrayal of Tyisha, Danny Boyd Jr. as Ray Ray, and Lawrence Fishburne playing Lt. Poincy, which drove home the point of what it takes to raise a black family in America and the agony and fear every parent go through. It’s only fitting that James, Jones, and Fishburne were all nominated for Emmys.
Think of this for a second, #FreeRayshawn was released almost a month before George Floyd’s murder and the civil unrest that happened in America. This show was relevant in April. It is relevant now. It will be relevant until the day police officers are not held accountable for using excessive force and needlessly taking the lives of minorities with impunity, authority, and immunity.
Whether as a means of protest or raising awareness, #FreeRayshawn is a profound portrayal of American racism, and it needs to be seen by everyone.
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