Many are raving about Time: The Kalief Browder Story, which debuted last night on Spike, as a doc that everyone needs to watch. I understand the sentiment behind such a bold statement. This story deserves every glowing review and for its ratings to shoot through the roof. Kalief Browder was wrongly jailed for three years at the corrupt Rikers Island in New York City when he was only 16 years old, and took his own life shortly after his release. Time is a brave moment of truth-telling that rips the band-aid of fiction off contemporary television retellings of corruption, injustice, and systemic racism in this country.
Even still, calling “everyone” in to witness this story is an acknowledgment that way too many people take its context for granted. As brutally tragic, inhumane, and sad as Browder’s experience was, it is not uncommon. It represents the very real circumstances that too many Black and brown people experience in the United States. Too many of us have already been watching this story in our own neighborhoods in Chicago, New York, Memphis, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans and every other city and town where poor Black communities exist at the mercy of state sanctioned surveillance and violence.
It seems relevant that the series aired on March 1, the day after the official end of Black History Month. Time is a reminder that some of us are Black every month of the year, meaning that we constantly exist at the mercy of a social system that refuses to acknowledge our full humanity. But more importantly, Time won’t allow us to forget that a treacherous history is still being created and recreated right under our noses.
On the show’s website, there is a “Take Action” button through which you can get involved with various projects, funds, and organizations that directly tackle our broken criminal justice system. You can follow that link to get involved with campaigns that attempt to stop solitary confinement for young people in jail facilities, cut the prison population in half, and fund educations for Bronx community college students who have been previously incarcerated.
The most important part of Time is what happens next. Everyone should watch, but that’s the easy part. What will you do with what you’ve seen and heard?