"Queen and Slim" creators on being black in America

"What are you most afraid of?" "The police." Brut spoke with @QueenAndSlim screenwriter Lena Waithe and director Melina Matsoukas about being black in America.

Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas

Screenwriter and director of the movie "Queen & Slim,” Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas share what it means to be black in today's United States.

Talking about her nephew

“Oh yeah, my nephew, who is eight years old, he… So, I asked, ‘What are you most afraid of?’ He said the police, and I think to be a young black boy… I shouldn't be surprised by that, actually, because you can't shield him from news or sort of social media. And I think that was really eye-opening for me. I know I'm afraid of them. But it just makes so much sense because the truth is, even when you watch civil rights footage, you know, the people beating up the young college students who are protesting are police officers.”

The pressures of "Black Excellence”

“Of course. You know, I don't think we would be here if we weren't excellent. And I think this is something that just comes with the dinner of being black, because we don't have true equality yet. But I think that that's, you know… Look, I think it's a harsh truth that we both have to face, but I think we both accept the challenge. I was brought up in a way that we're all created equal and we need to fight for each other's rights, not just our own. That we have to use the privilege we've been given to give other people that opportunity. And so, it gave me purpose, you know, it gave me this need to want to create change, to want to dismantle, to want to disrupt, to want to challenge. I just had to figure out what was going to be my weapon of choice. And then I found filmmaking and I was like, ‘This is a way for me to change the world.’ I can reach everybody, I can change minds, I can make people think, I can affect change that hopefully motivates other forms of activism.”

Responsibilities through art as a black woman

“I feel like I have a responsibility to reflect the times, to be honest to how we live. I don't really like to make people comfortable or create a space where people don't need to change. I think that comfort breeds complacency, and I like to motivate people and make them uncomfortable where they're questioning why. And so I feel like, you know, there's a need for me to reflect the times in which we live, to critique the society in which we live. Because it's not created equal, and there's a lot of dismantling and disruption that needs to happen. And I need to be a part of that. My responsibility? To tell the truth, you know, to be a truth teller and to not be afraid and to not make art that allows our community to be passive because, you know, we have to be the revolution that we dream about", Lena Waithe concludes with Malina Melina Matsoukas.