By Munson Steed
Amazing and awestruck are the feelings that came through as my eyes took in the latest indie flick, The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
Jimmy Fails works masterfully to expose the constant thoughts of the gentrifier and their continued foot on the neck of the Black community occupying the city of San Francisco. The circumstances that he faces, along with the city’s other Black and poor residents in general, is made poignant through his gaze and experiences. It is here that the character Jimmie and his best friend navigate the beautiful Alice in Wonderland maze of oppressors while consciousness keeps the dreamy truth about growing into manhood and brotherhood frightening, dangerous, and segregated.
It is clear from the start that the circumstances of Jimmie’s ancestral family home that doesn’t belong to the family anymore, yet his strong ties to hold onto the warm memories and his only true family tie might breed contempt for the transformation of cultural identity for the Black community and ownership in San Francisco.
The external attacks on brothers of both unemployment, environmental dumps, and drugs illuminate the lack of possibility of any sense of normalcy and development by African-American communities families and their legacy.
As James Baldwin said in his seminal work “I am not your Negro,” Jimmie highlights why the principal feeling of being alienated from society systemically clouds and brutalizes the future faith of young Black men.
For those who will never wear the skin that Jimmie does in the film, each White character seeks to really minimize the impact of a system of gentrification and application of responsibilities by liberals and politicians who its constituencies are not the individuals that bear their skin or their vote at the box.
In one scene, Jimmie showcases the rationale that all societal pressures, and those who have privilege in this country, explain their bloody sinful behavior for economic gain based on “If it wasn’t me, it would’ve been somebody else.” The starkest example being the while real estate agent who after learning about the perilous house’s status decides to list it himself to get the commission while Jimmie is trying his best to reclaim the property with no resources.
The film also showcases the feeling of Jimmie’s friend who is writing Jimmie’s memoir while he is living in the same world, but metaphorically being a Langston Hughes-like character who explains the pain that is omitted from the 5 o’clock news but sometimes highlighted in a very liberal voice by NPR without resolution.
Brotherhood could be felt on so many layers that this might be a movie to use as a healing tool to bring gangland murders to a minimum. We see the brotherhood that has often started within young black men beginning in their unfortunate circumstances like group homes and lonely nights on the corner gaining poor examples of masculine maturity as a death results from the corner training of gang-like confrontation principal rights of passage.
Black male toughness constitution leads to the death of Jimmie’s group home friend. Each man suffers from getting the shackle of their oppressed history and memories to remove the fog of lies and hope from their approach to a new day.
There is a poetic use of blindness in the film where our favorite actor and black community benefactor Danny Glover plays the blind grandfather of Jimmie’s best friend, Montgomery Allen. He sees everything on another realm but can change why and what his grandson chooses to be. He does appear to know life has given Jimmie a depressed mind, which does not let black men forget their oppressed station.
Glover’s grandfather character is an elder who is praying for his grandson and his community and urges the two men to stick together against the dangers of the world both seen and unseen.
Emotional tears and anger showcase the need for psychological and mental therapy for many black men. Their fathers have failed to create a legacy of emotional intelligence. Instead of lies breed lies and pain rains on all emotional levels.
Heartbreak, dissatisfaction, and disappointment are served by all of San Francisco, which seems to benefit from all tragic losses of the black community and especially black men.
Jimmie Fails writes the life in the land of Flint, Michigan’s black cousin of San Francisco.
The honest depiction of new age colonizers in this movie might have gotten Jimmie’s project left on an editor’s desk. Demonstrating how a liberal and tolerant white society still benefits from black oppression as white actors always explain away part of the constant injustice San Francisco offers as a gift.
Lastly, Jimmie asks Black fathers why don’t we see the cycle of abuse they administer like free cheese. “You didn’t die from so it was not so bad” philosophy that begs for a pass is a lie that expired decades ago.
Brothers cry, scream and accept that their bond as black men must be protected with honesty; but the pain is going to be part of process and practice.
Jimmie Fails work appears to free black men from the lie that the colonizer has defined you and demand a Black redefinition of their future outside the boxed circumstances of their birth.
Jimmie Fails is not your negro either with the masterpiece The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
This article originally appeared in Rollingout.com.