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  • Jayden Pierce

The Blak Trauma Loop

In an interview for The Root, executive producers Travon Free and Nicholas Maye talk about their new short film. Two Distant Strangers. The film speaks on police brutality while taking a groundhog day approach. The film follows a cartoonist Carter James, who faces a recurring deadly encounter with a police officer preventing him from getting home to his dog. He is forced to live the same day over and over again.

The recent rise in visibility of police brutality predominately against black people has presented a way to profit off of black trauma a concept that has been around forever. Exploiting black struggles for entertainment. Film’s like Queen & Slim, Antebellum, seven seconds, Crash, and If Beale Street Could Talk. Are examples of the way media has profited off of the trauma of black people, by repeatedly showing viewers abuse and traumatic experiences.

Films are often watched for the surrealism and escape from reality they give. In black Cinema the characters are often poor, gang members, or a victim of police brutality. Recent black films are the same repeated trope of the trauma we face daily in our reality and have to see other black people go through. Never allowing black people to see themselves outside of the abuse.

The movie Two Distant Strangers furthers the trope with a sci-fi twist similar to Netflix’s “See You Yesterday” which follows a young girl traveling back in time to save her brother from a shooting at the hands of a police officer. Both of these films force their viewer to visibly see black people die in various traumatic ways.

Two Distant Strangers tries to emulate the feeling of the repetitiveness of seeing and hearing about the trauma that black people experience. Yet the film only plays further into the exploitation of black trauma each time we see Jame’s life put to an end (over 100 times).

The exploitation of black trauma has to end. Black people deserve to see themselves on screen without traumatic experiences.

While these films can offer insight to anyone not aware of the ways police brutality and this world affects black people. There are plenty of resources in documentaries, literature, and the news that could easily serve as an informant.

It’s hard to tell if the purpose is to raise awareness or to profit off of black traumatic experiences, when there are thousands of black experiences to speak on.


Connor, Jay. “Can a Short Film About Police Brutality Win an Oscar? Van Lathan, Travon Free and Nicholas Maye Set Out to Make History With Two Distant Strangers.” The Grapevine.The Root, The Root, 9 Feb. 2021,

Free, Travon, director. Two Distant Strangers. Youtube/Two Distant Strangers, Youtuber, 15 Jan. 2021,


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