Regina King has a production deal with ABC Studios, and we’re getting some pretty good insight on what she’s doing with it. According to Deadline, the actress is producing and starring in a new drama series for FX about the Atlanta child murders that took place in the ‘70s. John Ridley, who worked with King on American Crime will also act as a producer. The show is based on the life of Kim Reid and her subsequent memoir, No Place Safe.
Reid was 13 years old when her mother acted as an investigator on the hunt to find the person responsible for murdering at least 28 Black children and young adults in Atlanta. No Place Safe recounts the murders through the eyes of teenaged Reid.
We can count on King to deliver a monumental performance. She is a great actress and knows how to tell powerful stories, even through the lens of adolescent cartoon boys. However, this story is important for a different reason. The Atlanta child murders were never thoroughly investigated. An Atlanta man by the name of Wayne Williams was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for two of the murders. The police assumed that Williams was responsible for the other 26 murders as well, but did not charge him, and closed their cases.
This show is following a wave of projects that are exploring the relationship between Black communities and the police. Over the past few years, mainstream news media has highlighted the violence that Black people experience at the hands of law enforcement. Shows like Rebel on BET and Fox's Shots Fired have popped up with a clear "bad guy with a badge." When bad things happen to Black people, our natural reaction in 2017 is to side-eye law enforcement. An unfortunate byproduct of this is that we remain sheathed in a cloak of criminality and suspicion. The question of why the police were involved in the first place can overshadow our humanity.
But we can be the targets of other crimes, too. And similar to the other 26 victims in the Atlanta child murders case, these crimes against us can go overlooked. For example, there is still fairly little attention given to the startling number of Black and Latinx girls who have gone missing in the nation’s capital. Already, terms like “runaway” and “at-risk” are being offered to the public instead of “we’re doing everything to find out where they are.”
Too often when bad things happen to people of color in the country, we question what they did to warrant it. I’m grateful that King is invested in telling a story about the vulnerability of Black communities before the police get involved. We need to hear it now, more than ever.