VCU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Afrikana Film Festival and the Cheats Movement presented the short film “The Cycle” last Thursday night, and celebrity guest Sway Calloway was in attendance.
With nearly 500 students and community members at the event, the film screening of the film was followed by a Q&A session with Calloway, a constant fixture on networks such as MTV and VH1, and actress Kaili Turner in the Commons Ballroom.
“‘The Cycle’ is a short film but it deals with the strained relationship between police in the community that we’re all from, inequality a cycle that has been perpetuated in our community for centuries since the days of slavery,” said Calloway, who is the executive producer of the short film.
The film, which depicts a New York police officer that kills an innocent teenager, shows both the perspective of the officer and the mother of the murdered young man. Turner, who plays the son’s mother, believes the film will not only spark discussion but lead to action as well.
Turner’s character is an African-American mother of one, believes the problem of police violence towards blacks is a universal issue for both men and women.
Her character also notes the importance of initiatives like #SayHerName, a subculture of the Black Lives Matter movement due to the fact that it provides exposure to the many women affected by police violence and brutality.
Calloway said the film was created to trigger a conversation and get people talking and asking questions and not allowing this attitude and mentality that we have toward each other to be perpetuated any longer.
“There are a lot of police officers working in fear and we’re seeing that through their impulsive behaviors and responses to people who may have been profiled,” Calloway said. “There are a lot of police officers who are just evil and crooked, that have a certain level of disdain for people in the communities they serve.”
After the film, Calloway and Turner fielded questions from the audience. One of the questions asked was if artists were going to start making more socially conscious work that speak to injustices.
Though Calloway has interviewed everyone from President Barack Obama to JAY Z, the Sirius radio host of “Sway In The Morning” said he never feels out of touch with reality. Growing up, Calloway said he saw and dealt with police violence routinely.
“I’ve witnessed as kids being roughed up at ages 9 and 10 years old. I’ve seen police officers really rough up kids in my neighborhood to the point where they were being slammed against cars and the force of the kid being slammed busted their nose.”
The radio and TV personality is from Oakland, California, the site of the murder of Oscar Grant in 2009. The tragedy, which spawned the movie “Fruitvale Station” took place minutes away from where Calloway grew up.
“Initially, I didn’t think police brutality, I just thought ‘that’s the way it is.’ It was just something we saw all the time. I don’t think the relationship between police officers and people in the community should be based on fear. When police officers came around, it was never for great reason so that stigma for us just kind stuck with us and me throughout my life.”
When an audience member asked about the problem of black disproportionality, Sway quickly tied the answer to the country’s incarceration numbers.
“Just look at the U.S. prison system. What percentage do we make up in the country? What percentage do we make up in the prison system? The numbers don’t lie,” Calloway said. “Our country needs a therapist right now.”
Staff Writer, Muktaru Jalloh
Muktaru is a senior double majoring in English and political science with a minor in media studies. Topic areas Muktaru enjoys covering include music, sports, pop culture and politics. // Twitter | Facebook