By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Asia Norris is a millennial filmmaker with a baby boomer’s perspective. She sees life through a prism of historic context and uses new media approaches to tell stories. Norris has blended old school knowledge and cutting edge technology to produce a documentary that begins a frank discussion about perceptions regarding race and justice in America.
Norris and Executive Producer Curtis Scoon visited Largo for a screening of “Black White & Blue” at Prince George’s Community College, where they painted a different picture of how politics impacts the justice system. Norris blends the perspectives from a group of authors, attorneys, historians, socially active pop icons, politicians and clergy.
“Going back and forth you’ll notice big similarities between the past and present,” Norris said to the AFRO. “I think a lot of things have happened which have separated us from each other, where we were as a community back in the day.”
The documentary features social commentary from Michigan Senator Coleman Young II, son of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, who was the city’s first Black mayor; television and radio personality Charlamagne tha God from the Breakfast Club; rapper and activist Killer Mike and Lord Jamar from Brand Nubian also share their perspectives, along with Professor Michael Eric Dyson.
The film covers the history of race related issues in America and starts with exclusive footage from the Baltimore riots following the verdict in the Freddie Gray case. It also explores, in great detail, how police brutality, race and politics in America impact law enforcement interactions with minorities, and how they continue to affect the treatment of residents from low income urban communities.
“Making this movie was an out of body experience for me,” Norris said. “I do take on the jokes because I’m a part of the social media generation too, but my generation can use it as a tool to get messages like this out.”
With societal scars lingering after the increase of law enforcement violence towards people of color since the end of the Obama administration, the young Maryland filmmaker frames the correlation between aggressive and sometimes fatal law enforcement practices in low income communities, which are symptoms of lingering political and social oppression.
“We tried to tie it all together and make sense of it,” Scoon told the AFRO. “We wanted to present the real issues that we are faced with and not be concerned with issues that serve other people’s purposes.”
Norris, 25, was able to blend narratives from around the country into an indictment on the judicial system and the political process. In addition to sharing perspectives on imbalance of the justice system, Norris travels around the country to explore other crises that are affecting people of color. Her conversation with Young exposes the cause and effect of the water crisis in Flint and how an absence of appreciation for the lives of those citizens manifests itself through the perils facing the larger metropolitan area of Detroit.
“I’m not super well versed in politics, but I see things,” Norris added. “From showing people things and when they see them hopefully we can meet somewhere in the middle.”
Becoming a documentarian was not initially part of Norris’ life plan. She learned videography and editing skills while working in the athletic department at Towson University. She was the basketball team’s videographer while finishing her undergraduate studies en route to earning her bachelor’s degree.
“I know I’m young, but I also knew I could do something greater with the [production] skills I learned along the way,” Norris said.