PJAS 15 Autumn-8

Izabella Kimak and Zbigniew Mazur
Race, Violence, and the City: Chicago’s Black Urbanity in Contemporary American Film and Literature
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 15 (Autumn 2021), pp. 291-302

Abstract: In this article we look at three recent films–Native Son (2019, dir. Rashid Johnson, based on Richard Wright’s 1940 novel), Widows (2018, dir. Steve McQueen, based on a 1983 TV series), and The Hate U Give (2018, dir. George Tillman Jr., based on a book by Angie Thomas)–by Black directors that showcase the interactions between Blacks and whites in an American urban milieu. We argue that the setting of two of these films–Native Son and Widows–in Chicago, with The Hate U Give being set in a fictional urban setting bearing a strong resemblance to the Windy City, serves to articulate the continuing racial divisions of American cities in the twenty-first century. The three films show that the fossilization of the divide between Black and white districts inevitably leads to outbreaks of racial violence.

Keywords: Black urbanity, Chicago, Native Son, The Hate U Give, Widows, racial violence

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.15/2/2021.08

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