Police corruption, racism and domestic abuse wrapped into four short stories do not begin to scratch the surface of the everyday horrors Black Americans face. Shown in the film Tales From The Hood, a 1995 horror anthology produced by Spike Lee, is one of many psychological horror/thrillers produced by Black filmmakers portraying the importance of such films.
Tales From The Hood encapsulates four short stories: Rogue Cop Revelation, Boys Do Get Bruised, KKK Comeuppance, and Hardcore Convert. Each story goes into detail about the challenges Black Americans face that are not seen or portrayed enough in the media.
Rogue Cop Revelation is the first story to be shown. It depicts how the police who vowed to serve and protect people, still treat Black Americans with absolutely no respect. This story goes deep into how police departments nationwide can be the culprit of corruption rather than the criminals they chase.
The first story follows corrupt police officers who are selling drugs and a “prominent black-figure” is trying to rid the city of corrupt police officers like them. Eventually, one thing led to another with abuse of power on the cops part with treating the prominent figure as someone less than human all because he has a different color skin than them and all he wanted was to rid of the corrupt cops in the city to make the city safer.
According to Nature Research Journal, about 1,000 civilians are killed each year by law-enforcement officers in the United States. By one estimate, Black men are 2.5x more likely than white men to be killed by police during their lifetime. In an additional study, Black people who were fatally shot by police seemed to be twice as likely as white people to be unarmed.
The reality of the situation is that this incessant racism has been occurring for centuries and black filmmakers have to show the true horror behind it in their films to get the attention of how important this issue really is.
“Boys Do Get Bruised” is the second story to be told and one telling the unfortunate horrors of how domestic abuse is not widely shown among black couples. This story focuses on a single mother who has a little boy in elementary school. He is a quiet, reserved, and shy kid that keeps to himself and does what he is supposed to. Throughout the short story, you notice he comes into school with bruises that are not from normal playing and that he is bullied by his classmates almost every day. As a coping mechanism, he draws about the people who hurt him, and without knowing it when he destroys that drawing somehow it affects the person in the drawing. You see this happen to the bully and one night the little boys’ teacher goes to his home to share his concerns. From the start, you see the hesitation in accepting help from the mom and dismissing the drawings her son makes like there is no way out of there can’t get out of their situation. This story is one that shows the true monsters in life are people.
In the United States, Blacks are more likely to experience domestic violence where various factors come into play to tell us why they can’t get the help they need or get out of the situation. Black Women are more afraid of what would happen if they did try to get out of the situation or the little to no help they will receive. They are afraid that being a woman of color in America that when trying to get help from law enforcement, there is this level of distrust from law enforcement because America’s past history is not protecting and serving everyone. Feeling like when they do reach out for help they will experience backlash because of the color of their skin, unsure if the justice system will actually protect them, or even receive pressure from their communities to keep their matters quiet. According to VeryWell Mind, “In fact, according to the Violence Policy Center, Black women are disproportionately impacted by lethal domestic violence. For instance, in 2018, Black women were murdered by men at nearly three times the rate as white women. That represents a rate of 2.85 per 100,000 compared to 1.03 per 100,000.” Not only must they deal with racism and stereotyping when they try to receive help, but black women are more than often arrested for defending themselves against the abuser. The mom in Tales From The Hood, felt like she had no choice but to stay in an abusive relationship because she felt like she wouldn’t get the proper help she needed for her and her son. One that is true for many black women in domestic violence that happens every day.
“KKK Comeuppance” is the third story about how a political white figure who is highly overconfident, racist, and a one-time member of the Klu Klux Klan is now running for governor. There are many protests against him running outside his campaign house, he plans to ask his office for when he wins office. The particular campaign house is one that used to be a plantation house previously used and owned by his ancestor who was a ruthless slave master. This caused an uproar in the local community of how disrespectful he was to the slaves who died there and not taking into account what the community needed and not catering to his own personal agenda. Throughout the short story, he disrespects the plantation house, even further, further disrespecting the slaves whose souls were at rest there.
This particular story is one that tells of how a politician like this one being an ex-Klan member, who is still openly racist, is something that tells the audience how African-American folklore should be emphasized to the community. Not just taken lightly and dismissed, but let them be known that they shape communities and need to have respect in a way that tells those communities that people in power acknowledge this. Meaning politicians take certain steps to show this to the community in one way or another, to show they mean no disrespect and actually care about how those communities believe in and pay homage to the culture. You see tons of examples of politicians moving up in power who are blatantly racist towards the black community.
Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise were all young boys who were wrongly convicted of raping a white female jogger, Trisha Meili, in Central Park in 1989. Before and after their trials, former president Trump made it known to this day and stood by his statement, even after they were all found innocent. According to USA Today, he believed the city is “ruled by the law of the streets, as roving bands of wild criminals roam our neighborhoods, dispensing their own vicious brand of twisted hatred on whomever they encounter… these muggers and murderers.”
“Hardcore Convert” is the last and final story that sheds light on the rising gang violence at the time. This sheds light on how gang violence costs so many young black lives over something so dangerous it is distracting them, while lives are being lost.
This story follows a gang member who goes by the name “Crazy K.” Crazy K is known for having no mercy and turning on people who are close to him to run his “business” properly. He gets into a shootout with three other rival gang members and you think he is going to die, but the police show up and see him in jail given a second chance by a program. That if he completes this particular program he will not go back to jail, and then the program was not your particular program.
This one gets inside your mind and shows the truth you need to face and hear, giving you a choice to be better. The program showed him what he was doing with all this gang violence and that he was taking lives unnecessarily adding to the body count that others are doing because of ignorance and hate. The program tried to show him this in a way that he was seeing ghosts and he didn’t want to believe it. He didn’t want to make the choice to get better, and because of that, not taking the choice resulted in him dying. It is then shown to the audience that the program he went through was all in his head, acting as limbo as to whether he lived to be a better person or not change and die. He made the choice to not change and we see him dying in the same spot he was shot at before we saw him go into the “program.” The message shining through is that the black community then and somewhat still now needs to rise above and see what change is needed to benefit our future.
Gang violence has risen over the years, especially in large cities. These gangs with young black men are starting to become more and more violent. Making it easier for more members to participate in more illicit activities like drugs, firearms, et cetera. In 1994, gang members were suspects or victims in about 40% percent of all homicides in Los Angeles County. The outside causes are also leading to so many young black lives lost and not having rights because black men and women are being seen and continue to be seen as less than human. That together, the black community needs to clear themselves from this fog of killing each other because of rival gangs, but also wake up to the fact who is actually responsible for all this death and carnage and what needs to be changed. The people in power, Klan members, and anybody blinded with hate are killing, hanging, beating, and torturing black Americans trying to keep the community blind to the point where they do not realize the black community is killing each other off, doing the job for them basically. That they want the black community to keep killing each other off and not wake up to ban together to stop this issue for a better future.
Real progression was as important then as much as it is now and black filmmakers are getting the message out there in any way that’s possible.