We Grown Now

We Grown Now
We Grown Now
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In 1992, a pair of two inquisitive young African-American boys’ lives were filled with struggle and change at Cabrini-Green housing projects, one of the worst slums in Chicago. We Grown Now is a heart-wrenching film that tells a beautiful poetic tale about growing up. Minhal Baig is an award-winning filmmaker who uses symbolic fantasy elements to represent an upbringing that has never been portrayed so truthfully before. Children are more than their environment; they are not products.

Many things contribute to the shaping of children, beyond what we observe from their physical surroundings as adults. They are opened up and exposed to adult hardships by various influences on them. The loss of innocence could be devastating but for the foundation that keeps it strong enough to withstand it and move on maturely.

These two best friends aged 10 years Malik (Played by Blake Cameron James) and Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez) haul an old mattress from somewhere into their almost dilapidated apartment block which they call home. On the way there they talk about Michael Jordan’s greatness. Since they know better than to use the lift, the boys opt for stairs instead while other children watch them enviously till they reach their play area. When they get there, they carelessly throw down the mattress on top of others lying there already; this signals fun time’s start among them all. They then take turns leaping into air joyously landing heavily.

He walks home slowly Nursing some bumps and bruises he got along the way as he enters his apartment building. His single mother Dolores (Jurnee Smollett) knows “where he was jumping.” They share Malik’s tiny room with her youngest sibling as well as grandmother S Epatha Merkerson). Not wanting to eat another dinner similar to yesterday’s one probably seems like Dolores’ job after work but Maleek makes sure that hurts her most. Meanwhile, Eric’s father is counting money for bills at home and asking his son widowed (Lil Rel Howery) to do it for him. He is always pushing his son to be smarter and better in everything he does. As a result, Eric’s elder sister (Avery Holliday) pleads with their dad to stop chastising him.

Malik and Eric are accompanied by Slug (Giovani Chambers), on their way to school the next day. The pretty teacher (Ora Jones) becomes everyone’s crush. Then police sirens wail outside the school making the mood in the classroom gloomy; as it turns out, a classmate has died in a drive-by shooting accident. The boys do not show any emotion because this kind of bad news keeps happening. Yet Malik could not sleep between leaking pipes that were so noisy and quiet talks going on in a living room. But where can Dolores go? She cannot afford to look after four people.

There are no stereotypes painted about Cabrini-Green residents in We Grown Now. And Baig who has been celebrated for directing 1 Night, Hala, as well as writing scripts for BoJack Horseman historicizes when the gigantic government housing complex turned black after Second World War II. Upon my family leaving racist South for safety and prosperity of Windy City explains why Malik’s grandmother moved up north. Their hopes of climbing upward came crashing down, when they ran away from Jim Crow’s segregation into closed doors and new hostilities against them while still remaining subservient in order to survive.

These disparities become more apparent to Malik and Eric through their experiences wandering around Chicago demonstrate how perceived social status dawns upon them gradually sometimes even with no awareness from within themselves due to certain situations that happen along the way. In one instance while there were walking past train murals depicting blacks as laborers, maids or cooks serving white socialites who were dressed well and smartly. What degraded them even further was that they had to go through harsh police searches and forced identification upon coming back home. These boys learn a painful lesson about life.

We Grown Now does not stew in negativity. What comes out clearly from Baig’s narrative is that children have an infinite imagination. Their dreams never stop despite the harshness of their living environment. These are scenes of boys gazing at the ceiling as if they were floating in space; and this will make you fly. They can still dream on. A similar level of disillusionment is however seen to be absent among the characters of grownups by Baig (2019). Dolores has to tap this energy once more to help her son get some light. In her journey, she navigates through it with hope even when things appear difficult. The gravity of their situation cannot conquer Dolores.

Baig continues her ethereal approach with a great choice of music that stirs one’s soul. Jay Wadley, a composer, heightens the feeling by adding an uplifting and delicate touch through his violin score as it plays alongside the boys’ adventures (Baig 12—15). Instrumentalized hearts suffering for the cause? The danger lies within Malik and Eric’s unique point of view being destroyed (Baig 15). Coming out like butterflies from cocoons are these kids who must remain beautiful and be directed towards prosperity. An aggressive sound track common in inner city films would misrepresent them according to Baig (2019).

We Grown Now admittedly treads near ‘after school special’ territory . However, there is still some melodrama and preachiness that lingers in Malik & Eric but thankfully doesn’t dominate the novel till its end (Baig 17—18). In their own way Malik and Eric talk about what they don’t understand yet taking place around them (Baig 20) . Can a dead child go directly to heaven? Is there a God? Are we still best friends even if we are apart from each other? Such deep thinking questions illustrate how bumpy that road to adulthood is. Friends and family who love you can make this difficult journey a little easier (Baig 2019).

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