Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The New Black

Director Yoruba Richen brings solid production values and a commendable sense of fairness to the documentary "The New Black," about the black community's views on LGBTs and their rights, as seen through the prism of Maryland's Question 6, the first statewide marriage-equality voter referendum to prevail at the polls. Richen focuses particularly on the primacy of the black church in the community, socially as much as (or more than) religiously. Richen allows those on all sides to make their cases, leaving it to the viewer to respond intellectually and emotionally as she will. I enjoyed this look at the ground-level work of canvassing on such a hot-button issue, how arguments and incentives may be tailored to individual voters (in the case of one young man whose first reaction was, "I ain't down with that," the response was, "Do you need community service hours?"), and knowing when to walk away. The real pain of wholesale rejection by perhaps the most dominant institution in the community animates "The New Black."

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