“The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central” by Christine Pelisek details the investigation that led to the arrest of Lonnie Franklin, a serial killer dubbed the Grim Sleeper. At the time, South Central was a neighborhood that grappled with low incomes, employment instability, drug addiction, and the crime that often accompanies those social issues. Deaths did not receive the same level of attention or scrutiny as they might have in other communities. For decades Franklin took advantage of that neglect as he prowled South Central Los Angeles attacking and murdering Black women with seeming impunity.
“American Gangster” is a 2007 crime drama set in the 1970s that tells the story of the Harlem kingpin, Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts, the police officer intent on bringing him down. But unlike many other films, “American Gangster” doesn’t just focus on the glitz and glam of being a crime boss but also touches on the real-life consequences and drawbacks of the lifestyle.
“Black and Missing” is a 2021 documentary in part about Black and Missing Foundation, Inc (BAMFI) a Maryland-based non-profit founded and managed by Derrica and Natalie Wilson. But it’s also about the sobering fact that every year in America, hundreds of thousands of people go missing. Of the missing, a disproportionate number are people of color and in particular, Black. Yet, while this should be regarded as a major issue, a lot of people are largely unaware. This is due in part to several factors, some of which are related to racism and/or income levels.
A review of “Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children”, a 2020 five-part HBO miniseries about the Atlanta Child Murders. Following the 1973 election of Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first Black mayor, the city launched an effort to rebrand itself. Adopting the tagline “The City Too Busy to Hate” Atlanta tried to reposition itself as being focused on commerce and progress rather than upholding racist traditions. But for two years, spanning 1979 to 1981, approximately 30 Black children and young adults went missing and were found murdered. The string of murders brought attention to the city but for all the wrong reasons and shed light on how little things had changed for many Black residents.
New Jack City is a 1991 Mario Van Peebles film about a Harlem drug kingpin and the local police force that is intent on bringing him down. Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) along with his right-hand man Gee Money (Allen Payne) and their Cash Money Brothers crew rise in the drug underworld as they expand into selling crack cocaine. The new drug brings large profits but also distrust among the once-solid crew as the neighborhood deteriorates due to violence and increased drug addiction which draws the attention of Scotty Appleton (Ice-T), an undercover police officer.