Immediately following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both Black men killed by police, we were heartbroken, angry, and outraged by the lack of accountability. We felt an urgency to impact this issue and shift the biased media portrayal, knowing that these racially influenced killings didn’t start or end with these men.
We wanted to see how individuals are currently impacted by this national institution of policing, which has roots in the slave patrols of the Antebellum South. What is the impact of this on Black men who interact within this system? Who are the small group of Black male officers who care, and are dedicated to changing this system from the inside out? Mobilizing our community of entrepreneurs, activists and artists of color, we invited six officers (active and/or retired) and six civilians to share their experiences with law enforcement. In filming, we saw that none of the participants fit our description, and that their views on policing, themselves, and each other were complicated, and sometimes contradictory.
Fit the description, a term used by law enforcement to identify a suspect, is often interpreted as code for racial profiling within communities of color. More largely, it speaks to when an individual is identified to fit into a societal group based on physical characterizations that are reduced to stereotypes and tropes. Our series intends to expand notions of identity beyond ‘fitting the description’ so we can begin to see and treat each other as nuanced human beings.
These conversations are a reminder that we all embody multiple identities, often at odds with one another. Fit the Description is a project which aims to explore and expose uncommon narratives as a pathway to expanding our perspectives.
Mainstream media often reports social issues on an incessant loop of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” These one-dimensional conversations limit how we relate to ourselves and one another. Fit the Description brings complexity to these social issues by:
- Providing a platform for underrepresented stories to be expressed and explored
- Using film content and interactive activities to disrupt and expand our viewpoints
Our intention is for viewers to engage with the content through conversations and interactive activities that leave them with the following:
- An awareness of yours and others humanity
- Engaging in a new type of dialogue, prompting alternative conversations to the norm
- Providing an opportunity for all to be seen and heard