Moonlight is an intense sorrowful socially conscious film about growing up poor, black and gay. The film follows a young man from childhood to his teen years to his young adult years. Each stage of his life is played by a different actor, each performance powerful.
What spoke to me the most about this film is the reality of growing up poor in America. How do we help children who are born into poverty find a path out? In the film, the main character Chiron, lives in a downtrodden black neighborhood in Miami. His mother is on crack and turns tricks to support her habit. He is a single child being raised by a single Mom who can barely take care of himself. He is numb from the violence and drugs from the time he is barely 6. He knows he is gay but isn’t sure how to process that. He is essentially on his own. He is bullied in school yet the entire education system turns a blind eye until he finally fights back and it is him who they turn on. Where are the social workers? Where are the people to help this young man break the pattern of poverty?
I know that our kids understand how privileged they are just being born into the world they came from. They were educating in the best schools, they were given opportunities to expand their minds and in turn their horizons, they were able to feel safe growing up knowing someone was watching out for them and care about their lives. Shouldn’t all kids be able to achieve the most for themselves?
As a society we are responsible for these young people. It is our moral failing that we have not created a strategy that helps and motivates the next generation of poor children to get past the issues that they see in their neighborhood every day. Child poverty is devastating. Children in poverty deserve a good education, engaged role models and a system they can count on to pull them out of poverty so they can use their youthful energy to get out of the downward cycle they are in.
How do we expect these kids to grow up and out of where they came from? Moonlight has many layers but more important it asks the question to the viewer….how can we as a society help these children? The movie made my heart weep.