Korey Wise. Antron McCray. Raymond Santana. Yusef Salaam. Kevin Richardson. The Central Park Five. Accused at the ages of 14 to 16 for raping a white woman on a jog in Central Park in 1989 and then forced to confess and rat each other out as a part of Linda Fairstein's plan to put five black boys in jail for a crime they did not commit.
"When They See Us" is heartbreaking, disturbing, and uncomfortable, but it must be watched by every man, woman, and child on this Earth. It must be viewed by everyone who is black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Islamic, and all races and ethnicities on this Earth. I don't want to hear, "It's too sad to watch. It makes me uncomfortable." If it makes you uncomfortable, then that means you are feeling and learning — feeling what Korey, Antron, Raymond, Yusef, and Kevin felt in 1989. Learning about something that the history books didn't teach you. Learning about yourself and waking up to see that what happened to those five boys — now men — is still happening to black boys today in 2019. But people like Brock Turner are still walking free.
Yes, I went there.
Linda Fairstein, you lived your life off of putting children away in jail for a crime you knew they didn't commit. You knew it and you slept peacefully at night knowing that you would make bank off of their lives — shame on you.
Elizabeth Lederer, you knew in your heart those boys didn't do it, but you forced evidence in court to put them away because Fairstein wanted you to. Shame on you.
Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, and Yusef Salaam — I am so sorry that the system let you down at a young age. I am so sorry for the abuse that you had to endure, from getting hit upside the head with the back of a police helmet to being slapped while escorting your friend to the precinct because he was scared. For being lied to and told that you would go home if you said "the truth." I'm sorry that you spent what was supposed to be the happiest times of your lives in cells. I am sorry.
If you haven't watched this series, start now.
Allow yourself to feel the emotions — hate, anger, hurt, disappointment, and fear. Allow yourself to look through the eyes of the Central Park Five. Allow yourself to see past the blatant racism and corruption within the justice system. Allow yourself to be free and think on your own for once in your life.
If this isn't a wake-up call to the blind and naive, then I don't know what it will take for you to see that this happened 30 years ago and will continue to happen unless people speak up. Do better.
Watch "When They See Us" on Netflix.