"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.


02/06/2020 2:30 PM
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  • Latrice B.
    2 days

    I got pulled over by a cop, and my son, 5yrs old at the time, asked me if the cop was going to shoot me. Surprised the hell out of me.

  • Tony B.
    2 days

    Nobody plays "the victim" better.. NOBODY!! weak AF!

  • Tony B.
    2 days

    Its passed down through generations. Jussstttttt like racism. Nobody just WAKES UP one morning afraid of something or hating something. It's learned.

  • Ethan S.
    3 days


  • Pete S.
    3 days

    And just like that, everyone became an expert on police violence statistics.

  • Chandra L.
    4 days


  • Lacie M.
    02/21/2020 05:47

    If you are not doing anything illegal why should you be afraid of the police ?

  • Kenny I.
    02/20/2020 16:37

    More policeman are killed than black people, more whites are killed by police, so whoever is teaching this guy's nephew this stuff needs mental help

  • Jackie R.
    02/20/2020 15:34

    Two days ago I had 7 bricks thrown at my head while I was trying to remove a hopper full of bad brick pavers. I pulled the hopper back about 20 feet from the line to clean the floor quickly, dump the hopper and return. The person that did this is not black, and he's been back and forth of two of the 3 plants because he can't function with simple orders. I spoke to manager cause the owner wasn't there yet. I also told this manager I didn't feel safe, because I have to clean the mixer the next day. Mind you now they don't operate with the lock-out drag-out procedure. That's why I spoke to the manager. When the owner got there everyone got together and told the owner a different story that was a lie. Today is my day off but I asked the owner 3 weeks ago can I get some over time to catch up on bills. Since he granted me the hours everyone that wasn't Black is totally pissed at me and my immediate supervisor says to me just be happy that you are getting overtime hours, regardless if this meth user that sleeps in his truck, hates you. My supervisor is Mexican and his side kick who is Mexican allowed this person to hurled 7 bricks pass my head. A new guy who is a young Mexican whose been there about 3 weeks told me twice the guy has problems and he thinks he's on meth. I asked him did he hurl bricks at you when you took the hopper, he said no. I still have to do this over time, just to confirm with them even though it's not safe here, I'm still going to have GOD'S INTERGATY, and at the same time as I'm writing this I'm praying to GOD as I do daily, to find me another job so I won't become homeless. I'm 63 years old, it's not good to be in that position for any age. Being BLACK is a good thing. It keeps me connected to ALMIGHTY GOD, cause since I've been able to comprehend things in life, I know deep into the lowest part of my bowels I haven't done anything to be treated so badly by the color of my Black Skin. Please pray for me, and guide me through this so lasting of hate. I play the West African Djembe Drum. When I'm hurting that's what I do best. And without knowing anyone in ear shot of how I play would settle down near me and receive guidance in a problem there having, peace of mind, and when I finish venting on my drums lots of different people of ethnic groups say they have never heard someone play like that. I thank them when they comment that to me, the one thing they don't know is since I've been a child that can think, why are you treating me that way, I know cause deep down inside I'm crying out to GOD, saying know one is treating me fairly, black, white, etc. Of anyone WHY. I wish I can show you some day. I can be anywhere on this planet and I don't play like normal drummer's. Every day I suffer but I always keep my integrity in everything thing I do. Love being Black, Jackie Robinson in Phoenix Arizona. PS. It's no fun living poor. GOD BLESS YOU FOR SHARING THAT IT'S NOT GOING TO GO AWAY BEING BLACK . AND DOUBLE PS. WOULD LOVE TO PLAY MY DRUMS IN A MOVIE, JUST TO SHOW THW THE WORLD I'VE BEEN ARRESTED FOR PLAYING BY THE RACIST COMPLAINERS. BYE

  • Denita W.
    02/20/2020 12:12


  • Tyai P.
    02/20/2020 00:39

    And it shouldn't be this way. Who's going to protect us from the protectors? That's the discussion we really need to have.

  • Courtney R.
    02/19/2020 14:36

    I think everyone has a fear of the police. I know I do

  • Amber R.
    02/19/2020 14:21

    It isn't just black people. Native Americans are killed by police at higher rates than any other race. We need to work together instead of always making it seem like only black people experience this fear. Or only immigrants have to deal with certain things. If we as people of color were to work together to find solutions and stand up together and say we're not going to keep living in fear we might actually be able to make effective changes.

  • Jose E.
    02/15/2020 13:08

    No matter what color of skin... never reach for anything when pulled over at night at gun point...

  • Kennorris K.
    02/15/2020 11:09

    Must black people don't have panic attacks from dealing with law enforcement. Idiot

  • Dennis D.
    02/14/2020 12:47

    Yeah, not like theres black police officers. Uuff

  • Kenneth N.
    02/14/2020 08:16


  • Miller S.
    02/14/2020 01:45


  • Ogbe A.
    02/07/2020 13:50


  • Kenneth H.
    02/07/2020 13:08

    Why do blacks have problems with the police? They can't follow orders.