When They See Us Review

Like a majority of things on Netflix, I found out about When They See Us via Twitter. Many people were discussing how well made it was, how much they hated  Linda Fairstein and how it is only one of many situations that series how flawed our justice system is. There were also a large majority of people sharing how they would not be watching due to already being exasperated with the amount of stories plaguing our community daily. With all that being said, When They See Us is extremely effective at depicting the facts about the entire ordeal both inside and outside the courtroom and causes the viewer to never forget the names of the Central Park Five.

Beginning the same way any well done period piece does, When They See Us drops us in late 80s and early 90s New York with the sounds and looks of the time. Eric B and Rakim and Public Enemy blasted as we see the boys out like they would be any other time. These few minutes are the most lighthearted of the series and show how their innocence was stripped away from them. As I watched and heard the sirens my heart literally sped up as I knew what was going to happen but I didn’t want it to. This was one of the many moments where the actors shined. The anguish, fear and sadness they expressed with their faces and voices were gut wrenching as a night that was seemingly normal took the worst possible turn. And the interrogation scenes including the scenes where they were told what to say…if you can watch them more than once more power to you.

The courtroom scenes did two things: They showed how frightened the parents of the boys were and they showed how the lack of evidence should made this case open and shut. Seeing the lawyers go back and forth with their points was very well done, especially when the people went to the witness stand. The scenes of the boys seeing/calling their families while in jail provided a small sense of happiness. They kept the conversation simple by asking them what they were eating and how they were doing. Seeing the boys smile was a great feeling too. In a creative sense the way the time progression was shown for Raymond as his brother went from a newborn baby to a toddler to a young boy was interesting as it was heartbreaking to see how many years had gone by.

Seeing the boys all grown up and trying to re-enter society was yet another harsh reality of situations that happen every day. Raymond saw no other option other than dealing after being laid off from the one job that actually accepted him. Antron also picked up a job however the woman in his life referred to him as an “inmate” during a argument. All five men suffered from the situations of their past and those around them who continued to hang it above their heads.

All of this ceased when they were exonerated.

At the closing moments of the series we are told what all five men are doing today. This was the perfect way to end the series by not only showing the real people behind the story but also what they did – and are doing – to advance the community. Just this past week they were awarded the Roger Baldwin Courage Award which was presented to them by Michael B. Jordan. This is just one of many occasions to come that the men will be honored for their bravery as more and more people are touched by their story. While they will always be defined by their past, they are also taking steps to help shape the future for the better too, in hopes of preventing another horrific situation like this from happening again.

Where Are They Now?

Raymond Santana Jr. – Raymond used his portion of the settlement money to start his own clothing line called Park Madison NYC. The name comes from his hometown. Currently available are men’s and women’s shirts with a list of the names of all the Central Park Five members. A portion of the proceeds from these sales will go to the Innocence Project which helps those who have been wrongly convicted. There is also a shirt with Raymond’s mugshot on it which he says represents “the ups and downs, the road I traveled , to become the man that I am today.”

Yusef Salaam – Yuseff has become a published author of poetry as well as a public speaker on the subjects of  “mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct, false confessions” and multiple others. He is both an educator and advocator for these policies traveling all over the country to spread the message. He has led workshops and more on these topics and also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama in 2016.

Korey Wise – Korey established the Korey Wise Innocence Project in 2015 at Colorado Law School. This project analyzes legal cases for wrongful conviction. Korey visits the school regularly.

Kevin Richardson – Kevin has also become an advocate for criminal justice reform and was honored with his high school diploma in 2017 by the Bronx Prep Academy. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Antron McCray – Antron lives with his wife and six children in Georgia. He has preffered to stay out of the spotlight outside of a couple of interviews as he is still dealing with the mental effects of the past.

When They See Us was an exceptionally informative and emotional story. It may be hard to get through but it is worth it because we should be thankful we are aware of the story and it’s not being hidden from history like countless others.

 

Her Body, Her Choice: Reasons Why Women Seek Abortions

Disclaimer: This article is not completely unbiased. It is pro-choice.

Abortion bans and heartbeat bills passing in several states such as Alabama and Georgia is the latest hot topic of discussion. Abortion has been a hot-button issue in politics for years, but since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe v. Wade in 1973, people across the nation never thought a woman’s right to privacy and right to choose to have an abortion or not would be stripped away. Now many girls, women, and trans men are panicking, and they should be––these anti-abortion laws are not pro-life, they are anti-choice and anti-women. Along with the discussion of the bills and laws themselves, many have talked about rape and incest being the main reason––and to some, the only reason––women should be allowed to have an abortion. However, there are many more valid reasons women seek abortions and should have the right to have one. 

 

According to a research article published on July 5, 2013 by BMC Women’s Health, 40 percent of participants stated not being financially prepared as their reason for seeking abortion. Although not being financially prepared was listed as the major theme, subthemes such as women not being able to afford a child and having financial problems (38 percent), lack of employment and underemployment (4 percent), lack of insurance or inability to get government assistance (0.6 percent), and inability to provide for a child without government assistance (0.4 percent) were included. One 32-year-old woman, in school full-time stated, “I’m unemployed, no health insurance, and could not qualify for any government-assisted aid, and even if my fiancé decided to hurry up and get married, I still wouldn’t have been covered under his health insurance for that.”

There seems to be a misconception that teenage girls are the main group to get abortions, which also seems to fuel outrage in people who think abortions should be banned because “teenagers shouldn’t be having sex anyway.” However, according to the CDC in an Abortion Surveillance report, in 2015, adolescents less than 15 years old and between 15 and 19 years of age accounted for 0.3 percent and 9.8 percent of all reported abortions––this group had the lowest rate of abortions out of the three age groups observed in this study. The majority of abortions accounted for and the group with the highest rate of abortions in 2015 were women in their 20s. Women aged between 20 to 24 and 25 to 29 accounted for 31.1 percent and 27.6 percent of all reported abortions. The second group who had the most abortions were women in their 30s and past their 40s. According to this study, in 2015, women aged 30 to 34, 35 to 39, and equal to or past the age of 40 accounted for 17.7 percent, 10 percent, and 3.5 percent of all abortions. The majority of these women are old enough to make an informed decision on abortion.

 

Another reason women were seeking an abortion, according to the research article published by BMC Women’s Health, was because of partner related reasons (31 percent). The relationship being bad, poor and/or new (9 percent), the respondent wanting to be married first/not a single mom (8 percent), partner is not supportive (8 percent), partner is wrong guy (6 percent), partner does not want baby (3 percent), and partner is abusive (3 percent) are among the subthemes for this category. In this research article, 29 percent of women expressed their need to focus on other children as their reason behind seeking abortion––25 percent stated it was too soon after having had a child, they were busy enough with current children, and they have enough children right now, while 5 percent had concern for other children they were rearing. Among the 5 percent, a woman stated, “I already have 5 kids; their quality of life would go down if I had another.”

Only 4 percent of women in 2015 stated they do not want a baby or to place their baby up for adoption in the research article on “Understanding why women seek abortions in the US” published by BMC Women’s Health. These tend to not be seen as sufficient enough reasons to have an abortion to some people. According to Planned Parenthood, “In 1965, illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy-related deaths — and that’s just according to official reports; doctors think the actual number was a lot higher.” Roe v. Wade allowed the access women needed to safe and legal abortions so if a woman does not want a baby, she has the right to choose and have a safe one. And though many suggest putting the baby up for adoption, according to Children’s Rights, there are around 443,000 children in foster care in the U.S. on any given day and that “in 2017, more than 690,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.” According to an article written in 2017, the National Foster Youth Institute stated:

 After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
 Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.
 There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.

 

The research article published by BMC Women’s Health included many more reasons women were seeking abortion including that a baby would interfere with future opportunities such as educational or vocational plans,women not being emotionally or mentally prepared, health related reasons such as their own health or health of the fetus, influences from friends or family, and so on. Many women who participated in the study gave more than one of these reasons for why they were seeking abortions (which is why the subtheme percentages do not necessarily add up to the major theme it is under), and all of these reasons are valid.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2018, the population of the U.S. is estimated to be 327,167,434 with 50.8 percent of the population being female. Slightly more than half of the U.S. population’s rights are being threatened in the name of pro-life. No one knows the circumstances of every individual woman. Whether they need an abortion due to their life being threatened or they want an abortion because they are not ready for a baby, women deserve that choice. 

Additional information about the recent abortion bans, heartbeat bills, and laws passed:

 According to the Washington Post, “Lawmakers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah have passed new antiabortion bills, and similar measures are pending in other states.”
 According to CBS news, Alabama’s law is not scheduled to go into effect until November of this year, while Georgia’s law is not scheduled to take effect until January 2020. 
 There has been talk of the recent abortion bans and heartbeat bills being used to try to overturn Roe v. Wade. According to the Washington Post, Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, said, “This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.” 
 According to Time, “Governor Mike Parson is expected to sign a bill that would ban abortion in Missouri after eight weeks of pregnancy. Doctors who perform later abortions would face five to 15 years in prison, although people who receive abortions would not be prosecuted.”
 According to the New York Times, “Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio stopped short of outright bans, instead passing so-called heartbeat bills that effectively prohibit abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, when doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit the procedure to the middle of the second trimester.”