Entertainment

The Black And Latino Boys Documented In ‘Whey They See Us’ Weren’t The Only Ones Who Had Their Lives Ruined

By now, Netflix has found a way to produce TV shows that deal with often uncomfortable topics. From the “Ted Bundy Tapes,” which examines the sex appeal of a horrible serial killer, to “1994,” which discusses thorny issues in recent Mexican political history, the streaming giant has revisited historical events that have been mired in controversy.

The latest show to set the Internet of fire is “When They See Us,” a dramatizes retelling of the story of five POC young men who were wrongly incarcerated after the rape of Trisha Meili, a white woman who was attacked in the North Woods of Manhattan’s Central Park on April 19, 1989. Following the crimes, the city was put on alert and the police department was pressured into finding a culprit. And, of course, as was sort of expected, they found the face of evil in five teenagers of color (four Blacks and one Latino): Raymond Santana, 14; Kevin Richardson, 15; Antron McCray, 15; Yusef Salaam, 15; and 16-year-old Korey Wise. These five teenagers were deprived of their innocence and sent to a juvenile correctional facility on charges of rape, assault and related crimes in 1990. Korey, who was then just 16, was sent to adult prison. Needless to say, their lives were forever changed.

But surprise, surprise, they were not guilty, just as they had stated all along. In 2002 the real assailant confessed and DNA testing verified his guilt. The convictions were vacated. However, these men and their families had to rebuild their lives. Netflix has now financed and distributed a four-episode series that explores the social and psychological impact that the events had in the country (the case garnered a lot of media attention, and white supremacists saw the Central Park murder as a validation of sus ideas pendejas). The cast is testament of the talent of independent cinema and of people of color working in Hollywood:  Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Michael K. Williams, Logan Marshall-Green, Joshua Jackson, Blair Underwood, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Aunjanue Ellis, and Kylie Bunbury give life to this story.

The series, which was launched on May 31, has gotten a lot of attention and has caused all the feelings with viewers. 

People have headed to Twitter to express their anger and disgust.

Credit: @muz_nash / Twitter

The story of the Central Park Five often seems like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” One day you are a normal teenager minding your own business and the next you are being profiled at a police station and public figures want you dead.

The show is an indictment of a broken system.

Credit: @MrShahhh / Twitter

Rather than an isolated event, “When They See Us”is indicative of a judicial and prison system in which ethnic and racial minorities are disadvantaged. Just think about this, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2013 black males accounted for 37 percent of the total male prison population, white males 32 percent, and Hispanic males 22 percent. The figures of Black and Brown inmates just seem to be increasing.

What if the real assailant hadn’t come forward?

Credit: @Isiah_Barnes / Twitter

This Twitter user served us with a harsh truth: the only reason why the Central Park Five have been exonerated is the guilt that the real rapist and murderer felt. Can you imagine how many innocent men and women are wrongly imprisoned today?

“When They See Us”will make you cry and feel angry, and that is okay.

Credit: @ltz_Dasilva1 / Twitter

One of the great things about art is that by making us feel something, political action is often instigated. Many viewers have questioned the invulnerability of the system by watching this show. Let’s remember that this is a topic that Netflix has tackled before, particularly in the show “Orange is the New Black,” were Black, Brown and white identities are confronted in the prison industrial complex. 

Before we forget. Yes, Donald Trump, then a real estate magnate, did call for their execution.

Credit: 161007162257-trump-central-park-5-ad-super-tease.jpg. Digital image. CNN

The current POTUS paid an ad on New York’s most popular newspapers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five. This dramatically changed public perception of the young men, and their culpability was presumed. Trump spent $85,000 on these ads. Trump wrote: “At what point did we cross the line from the fine and noble pursuit of genuine civil liberties to the reckless an dangerously permissive atmosphere which allows criminals of every age to beat and rape a helpless woman and then laugh at her family’s anguish? I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.” Damn.

The show is spearheaded by Ava DuVernay, a powerful female voice in Hollywood.

Credit: ava / Instagram

The show is the brainchild of Ava DuVernay, who has made a name for herself as a talented filmmaker who can at the same time deal with thorny issues regarding African-American history and create compelling, commercially viable movies. She directed the Golden Globe-nominated “Selma”and the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th.”

DuVernay is a power player in the industry, so “When They See Us”could get traction.

Credit: ava / Instagram

Ava has done what many consider still kind of impossible in Hollywood: she has established a name for herself even if she is a Black woman. Besides Shonda Rhimes, there are not many Black women who have made their voice heard in a white and male-dominated industry. We need more people like Ava and more shows like “When They See Us.”

The original title was “Central Park Five.”

Credit: whentheyseeus / Instagram

We like the final title much better: it gives the show a bigger sense of universality. Also, Central Park Five centers on the trauma and not necessarily on the post-incarceration story of redemption. 

It is one of the highest ranked TV shows on Rotten Tomatoes.

Credit: whentheyseeus / Instagram

The acclaim has been universal: it has a 94 percent Fresh score on the aggregated review site Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have highlighted the impact that the prosecution and journalists had in how the teens were seen by the public. Hannah Giorgis from The Atlantic wrote: In rendering their journeys, DuVernay pays careful attention to the terrifying power of language, especially the animalistic rhetoric with which prosecutors and journalists referred to the teens.” Ouch: this is still true for much of American media. 

There is an Oprah special, “Oprah Winfrey Presents When They See Us Now,” with the original five protagonists.

Credit: whentheyseeus / Instagram

You can see a bit here, but the full interview was released on Netflix and the Oprah Winfrey Network on June 12. In this interview, Oprah looks at their lives and raises questions about the system that allowed this to happen. How many more Black and Brown youth are suffering from similar injustices today? 

They are still good friends, brothers forever.

Credit: santanaraymond / Instagram

We can’t stop shedding a tear when we see this photo. Five men who keep positive even if innocence was taken away from them unexpectedly. How to be optimistic afterlife has dealt you the worst possible hand? Todo un ejemplo de actitud, caballeros.

READ: Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’ Explores The True Story Of The Injustices Against Black And Brown Boys

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Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Things That Matter

Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Photos: State of California, Gabriel’s Justice/Facebook

Gabriel Fernandez’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, is trying to have her murder conviction thrown out. The 37-year-old woman has been in jail since 2018 for the murder and torture of her eight-year old son.

Pearl Fernandez is petitioning the court for resentencing, hoping to have her first-degree murder and/or second-degree murder charges thrown out.

Fernandez is hoping to have her sentence vacated based off of new changes to the California state penal code. “I think that she feels that somehow maybe, you know, the special circumstance will be dismissed or maybe she’ll have a chance that the D.A. will agree with the petition,” Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami said to CBSLA.

In June 2018, a judge sentenced Pearl Fernandez to life without parole. The judge charged Pearl Fernandez with the 2013 torture and killing of her eight-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez.

On May 22, 2013, Gabriel Fernandez died after suffering a fatal beating from his mother. Pearl Fernandez was allegedly angry that he didn’t clean up his toys.

The details of Pearl and her boyfriend’s lengthy torture campaign against Gabriel Fernandez are both gruesome and numerous. Over the course of his eight-month stay with Isauro Aguirre, the couple broke his bones, burned him with cigarettes, pepper-sprayed him, and forced him to eat his own vomit as well as animal feces. And that is just a short-list of what they did.

The case came to national attention after the release of the 2020 Netflix documentary, “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez“. The documentary shone a spotlight on the insidious nature of child abuse. It also highlighted the systematic failures of the social services system that fails to protect children.

Elected officials have expressed their disgust at Pearl Fernandez for trying to escape justice by taking advantage of updated laws.

“The policies and directives from my office and these new laws created by the Legislature are emboldening murderers of children to apply to be re-sentenced,” said Deputy DA Hatami to City News Service. “This is completely unfair to the surviving families and their loved ones.”

He continued: “Families now have to relive all the horror that was perpetrated upon a small and helpless child. Based upon all the evidence presented at the grand jury, which was made public, and the jury trial, Pearl Fernandez was a major participant in the torture and murder of little Gabriel.”

It seems obvious by the fact that Pearl Fernandez is trying to get out of jail after torturing her son to death, that she isn’t remorseful about her actions.

Any other mother who killed her son would probably want to spend the rest of her life in jail instead of trying to find a way to get out of it.

If you believe someone you know is experiencing–or committing–child abuse, there are resources to help. Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. Staying vigilant could help save a child like Gabriel Fernandez.

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Regé-Jean Page Is Leaving ‘Bridgerton’ and We’re Devastated

Entertainment

Regé-Jean Page Is Leaving ‘Bridgerton’ and We’re Devastated

Courtesy Netflix

There is some very bad news for “Bridgerton” fans. On Friday, Netflix announced that Regé-Jean Page is not returning for the second season of the smash-hit Shondaland series. Regé-Jean Page played the dashing Duke Simon Basset in the first season.

Netflix told the world that Regé-Jean Page would not be returning to “Bridgerton” via a statement written in the voice of Lady Whistledown.

“While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton’s quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings. We’ll miss Simon’s presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family,” Lady Whistledown wrote.

They also added: “Daphne will remain a devoted wife and sister, helping her brother navigate the upcoming social season and what it has to offer – more intrigue and romance than my readers may be able to bear.”

Apparently, it was Regé-Jean Page’s decision not to return to the multicultural costume drama.

Although the role of duke Simon Basset shot Page to stardom, he feels that it’s now time for him to move onto bigger and better things. In an interview with Variety, Page said that Bridgerton producers always told him that his role would be a “one-season arc” with a “beginning, middle, end”.

“[I thought] ‘That’s interesting,’ because then it felt like a limited series,” said Page. “I get to come in, I get to contribute my bit and then the Bridgerton family rolls on.”

According to Bridgerton producers, the next season will largely revolve around Anthony Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey) as he tries to nab the love of his life.

Unfortunately, that storyline doesn’t seem quite as appealing to Bridgerton fans who loved to stare at Regé-Jean Page’s face for hours on end.

“Well, not sure what the point of watching this now,” said one disgruntled Twitter user. “We all know that Simon was the reason why most of us were watching this :/”

Fans of the book series, however, were much quicker to jump to Regé-Jean Page’s defense.

“Guys, each season is about one brother/sister, first season was about Daphne, second season will be about Anthony!” wrote another fan. “Simon won’t be the main character as he was. Accept Anthony and Kate [the new love interest]”. They added later: “The name [of the show] is ‘Bridgerton’ not Duke of Hastings.”

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