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Movie Review: The Book of Clarence

By the end of the movie The Book of Clarence, I was wondering how feasible it would be for me to gather all the Black men I know and rent out a theater for them all to watch it. Sharing that ludicrous thought with you is embarrassing right now, but that was my actual thought. I spent the ride home texting everybody who would listen that they needed to see it immediately.

The Book of Clarence is a beautiful hood story about brotherhood, community, and making your place in the world as live under oppression. This tale of Black manhood and spirituality is a familiar one, apparently ringing true throughout the ages.

You know how writings and speeches from 19th and 20th century Black anti-racist activists are still relevant today? Reading and listening to many of them, they could have been published last week. The Book of Clarence illustrates a similar analysis, reflecting on when Jesus was Jerusalem’s Most Wanted, with occupying oppressors looking to “neutralize” anyone identified as a messiah.

I’m not a Christian, and I did not experience this movie from a religious perspective. Instead, I recognized the various personal struggles and phases of realizing one’s own power that is connected to a higher power. That power, as writer Jeymes Samuel shows (and as Jesus said in the Bible), does not belong to just one of us but to all of us. This higher power is [also] our community, our faith in one another despite our imperfection, and it is the wisdom to recognize when to put street shit aside and fight the oppressor together.

I am a Black woman, and I experienced The Book of Clarence in all of its Black glory and beauty. It made me feel like I was witnessing a very important, necessary point of connection, intersection, and uplifting of Black men, for Black men, by Black men.

Jeymes Samuel is good at all of his jobs, from the direction to the soundtrack to whatever else he did to make this masterpiece what it is. Like we saw with The Harder They Fall, he has a superb gift of linking Black past with Black present, damn near seamlessly. And when we do see the seams, it’s because they are supposed to be there, reminding us that ain’t much changed.

May we be inspired and motivated and united.

As always, I wish you money, peace, security, fun, Love, and The Real You! NOW!



Tahira Chloe Mahdi is an author, screenwriter, independent arts & culture journalist, and community psychologist. Her latest novel This Is Not How It Was Supposed to Go is a wild, explosive adventure into the dynamics of adult children living with their parents, young women’s sexual agency, and close-knit suburban hood communities.

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