Featured, Movies, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

Get Out Was Scary but TIME: The Kalief Browder Story Is The Real Horror Story You Should Be Watching

I need a late pass; I only recently saw Get Out. Like last night. Almost a month after its release I finally managed to make it to see the movie that everybody is talking about. The hype is justified and any Black males dating white women will probably be donning  a perennial side-eye whether they like it or not. And also, I’m guessing that there will be a whole lot more questions asked of our fairer complexioned mates anytime the subject of going out of town for the first time together comes up on some “sorry, not sorry, trying not to die in the woods because white people want Black bodies” shit.

Get Out was wildly entertaining and not nearly as scary as I expected it to be. I’m not a horror movie person at all. In fact, I ONLY went to see it because literally everybody’s been talking about it and everybody I know who has seen it has explicitly told me that I need to do the same. Otherwise, I’d have passed because I don’t like sleeping with my nightlight on. Not that I have one. It’s my son’s really. With his scary self. Kids, man. Kids.

Yeeeeeeeeep.

But while it took me a long time to see Get Out, what I have been watching is TIME: The Kalief Browder Story airing Wednesdays on SpikeTV (and BET). That, my friends, is a real horror story. Because it’s real. Because it’s scary. Because we already know how this story ends. We’re watching footage of and listening to the words and what amounts to the descent of this man’s life into suicide. Kalief Browder is a victim of the intersection of everything that is wrong with the juvenile justice system, not only in New York City, but in America.

TIME is the horror story you should be watching.

For those who don’t know, TIME is a six-part documentary executive produced in party by Jay-Z about the story of Kalief Browder, a young man who spent three years on Riker’s Island (New York City’s jail) awaiting a hearing and trial largely because his family couldn’t come up with the bond in time to spring him, and the horrors he faced inside at the hands of prison guards, fellow inmates, and the psychological effects it had on him. Unfortunately, but not at all unpredictably, it resulted in him taking his own life at age 22. If you’re unaware of his story, you really should read up on it. Or better yet, watch this documentary.

I hate to say that watching the story of a dead man is compelling, but the truth is, it is. Listening to him talk, and to his friends and family talk, and seeing footage of the brutal attacks, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a child. He was 16 when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. Sixteen. All of the footage is of a juvenile. Yet here we are, watching the waning years of his life as he explains why he came out a different person than he went in.

You get to hear from prison guards who TELL you of the corruption and what they did to bring in contraband and how they let shit slide or used other inmates as enforcers. It’s three episodes in (plus a town hall) but you get to see an indepth analysis of what social scientists and justice reformers have been screaming: you watch every way that the system breaks you down and ruins you for life. You’re watching unchecked devastation and destruction exacted largely on people who look like many of our family members.

Why do I need to watch it? I already know the story. I don’t want to see how America killed Kalief. I like my horror stories to be fake, not real. I don’t want to see that shit.

I’ve seen many versions of that statement on social media. And I get it. If you’re aware of the story, it probably infuriated you and possibly still does. I remember when the story about Kalief first broke and the way so many of us couldn’t believe that this young man spent almost 14 months in solitary confinement. That’s ungodly. That’s unreasonable. It’s inhumane. He was a child. We were all pissed.

I remember reading that he died and I can honestly say that I wasn’t surprised. I was saddened because I’d watched the interviews with him and prayed that the faint and distant glimmer of hope I thought I saw from his ability to tell his story would lead to, I don’t know, something not death. But alas, it’s hard to escape your mind. Even when I watch him talk, he always seems like he’s watching his back, fighting back tears, pain, sorrow, and despair. He’s literally trying to make it one day at a time.

It’s hard to watch, but it’s important to watch. It’s important to see just how corrupt the system is. Knowing it’s corrupt is one thing, knowing HOW it’s corrupt is a different beast altogether. You don’t even fully understand what there is to fight for if all you’re fighting for is police reform and juvenile justice reform. It’s important to know exactly what is going wrong and why and how and who is ultimately culpable. It’s painful to see it. It’s devastating and it might bring you to tears. Especially watching him speak about the injustices. Not hearing him, but watching him talk about it.

It’s also important to watch because it’s almost impossible to view his story and not want to do…something. You may not know exactly what to do; Lord knows I don’t. But the more I watch and the more incensed I get the more I’m concerned and worried about everybody else who comes face to face with a system that seems intent on destroying our community and those people of color who come into contact with it. Kalief’s story could have been anybody’s story in the same way that Trayvon Martin could have been anybody.

We need to be aware of all of our stories in order to know exactly what it is we’re fighting for. I pray that Kalief is resting peacefully. His story, a true American horror story, should hopefully help those that don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on to people of color realize just how fucked up a system that they rarely have to deal with is.

That is the real audacity of hope.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Other_guy13

    This story is legit one of the saddest stories of ALL time. It’s every black man’s nightmare. i hate he paid with his life for it to shed light to his situation. 3 years is NOT a speedy trial…they threw him away plain and simple.

    • Me

      It’s every black PERSON’s nightmare. I’m torn between happy that his life was able to shed light on this travesty of justice that honestly is happening EVERY SINGLE DAY in this country, and sick to my core that a baby (which is what I call any person under the age of 18, especially when they’re black) lived through this with his family powerless to do anything. Between this and the ungodly things going on in the girls’ facilities, I’m shaking in my boots for the day my kids are born. A world shouldn’t exist where horrors like this are possible.

      • Other_guy13

        Yea…i’m afraid to bring a child into this world too…times have changed or maybe just stayed the same

    • raul

      I’m white and find this story terrifying. I know I’ll got a ton of hate in these parts for appreciating the ambiguities in a lot of these police encounters but much like Eric Garner and the cop who just got a hung jury in SC I’m at an absolute loss as to how anybody looks at this case and isn’t like WTF?!?

    • Janelle Doe

      “They threw him away.”

      They (stay )throw(ing) them all away
      *sob

  • Mary Burrell

    This poor guy the cards were just stacked against him. This was such a tragedy all the way around. Life just is not fair. RIP Kalief Browder. Same to Kalief’s mom who just recently passed away. May she Rest In Peace as well.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    Let’s see how this one plays out. Cause VSB be sometimey when it comes to criminal justice issues.

    • RaeNBow

      sometimey? how so?

      • panamajackson

        I’m curious too.

      • miss t-lee

        That was my question…lol

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Change the crime to something less innocent, and the VSB commentariat changes their tone.

        The fact that the underlying offense was a property crime is the scotch bonnet in this pepper pot.

        • Other_guy13

          He stole a backpack right?

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            Yeah, that’s what allows the outpouring of support.

            • Other_guy13

              So..what crime would be okay. I can only think of R2pe and Murder changing peoples minds. But even then they get faster trials. 3 years waiting for trial is cruel for any crime the way I see it.

              • Brooklyn_Bruin

                You need only look through the past few years of crime coverage to generate more.

              • esa

                they willfully and maliciously violated his Sixth Amendment right to punish him for refusing to take a plea.

              • miss t-lee

                Not necessarily.We had to wait almost 2.5 years for the trial we went through. It was constantly postponed due to the defense attorneys.

                • Other_guy13

                  WTF

                  • miss t-lee

                    Exactly.

              • Shay

                It’ not about the crime being ok so much as the inhumane and corrupt system being exposed. I for one don’t care what the ALLEGED crime is, I focus more on the overlying implications for any and everyone coming into contact with the system as a result of such unchecked systematic corruption. Because when the system is corrupt and a person, regardless if innocent or not, comes into contact with them they are liable to be subjected to the same treatment. So it is necessary to not let the facts behind how that person got there and whether they should or shouldn’t be there overshadow the larger point that the system is F*CKED up and we can all fall victim to it regardless of how well we live our lives so we best be concerned with how these procedures are carried out. A violation of anyone’s constitutional rights is a threat against all of our rights. People spin irrelevant time focusing on the alleged crimes and whether a person deserves said treatment based on the ALLEGED crimes than the bigger picture. We ain’t out here on the front lines fighting for each person that becomes a hashtag individually we fighting for everyone’s lives to matter.

                • Other_guy13

                  I’m saying that those two crimes would give people more pause to have sympathy. Fact is, your right, the crime really doesn’t matter. It’s the the system that needs to change…but I have little faith that will happen.

                  • Shay

                    People need to check themselves and realize that its not about sympathy for the ALLEGED offender but checking of a corrupt system. Those that think that attention to these type of abuses are based in sympathy need to be briefed. We not gonna make it if folks don’t realize that, too shortsighted.

          • TheCollinB

            Allegedly. He was more so a victim of bs stop and frisk.

            • Other_guy13

              Trumps two favorite things

          • catgee12

            He was accused of stealing a backpack …

        • miss t-lee

          You can call me sometimey then.
          Minor misdemeanors and serious violent crimes aren’t gonna garner the same support.

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            It ain’t just you. Plenty of them in here.

            “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine..”

            • miss t-lee

              Yeah quoting the bible to me really isn’t the move. I’m not that kind of Christian.

              • “Yeah quoting the bible to me really isn’t the move. I’m not that kind of Christian.”

                T-shirt

                • miss t-lee

                  HA! Definitely.

              • Mary Burrell

                Woosah!

                • miss t-lee

                  Woosah, indeed!

        • Me

          I’m trying to think of a recent case where a suspect of a violent crime who died in police custody or as a result of police procedures before a trial took place got little sympathy from VSB. Can you give an example?

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            Nice try.

            Do a site search for “court of public opinion” or “criminal justice”. Read the comments, but don’t keep a list.

            Browder garners sympathy because we can empathize with him.

            When we can’t, we’re a lynch mob.

            • Me

              Ok. So, I tried the search thing, and the articles that came up under criminal justice were for Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Nate Parker, and Bill Cosby. Court of public opinion gave me a bunch of random articles. Anyway, I’m still not seeing what you mean by the change in empathy/sympathy. Am I missing something?

        • Epsilonicus

          Are you saying that if it was rape or child abuse, he might not have elicited the same sympathy vs stealing?

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            Crimes against the person or the body would easily change the mood.

            • Epsilonicus

              I can agree with that assessment

    • Everyone deserves to get treated properly by the police and the courts. No matter what they did.

      • Val

        I’ll add, no matter what they have been ACCUSED of doing. That’s key. Police are unprofessional so they treat almost everyone, especially Black folks, like they are guilty. And then they and the justice system, jails, etc, use that presumed guilt as an excuse for maltreatment and torture.

        • Exactly.

        • catgee12

          Exactly. Innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply when you have a Black or Brown face. You are treated like a criminal before you even get your day in court.

    • Ess Tee

      Far be it from me to assume (which means you know I’m about to assume…), but am I to take away that you’re more in line with the abolition of the prison system altogether?

      I keep wanting to jump fully behind the movement, but then I think, “Well, what to do be done about very violent offenders (e.g., child molesters or serial rapists or serial killers)?” And I don’t have the answer, so…

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        That’s not my position.
        Consider these four arbitrary questions

        1) How does a young brother come under scrutiny?

        2) What rights should be afforded to those who’ve been merely accused?

        3) How should we punish those who are convicted fairly?

        4) After their time is served, do we forgive?

        A fair amount of VSB folks change their answers to these questions based on who pulled the trigger.

  • 909girl601world

    I refuse to watch this. I just cannot. For my own mental health there are just some things that I will not willingly subject myself to and this is one of them. The details that I am aware of are heartbreaking, I can’t imagine fully delving into this poor man’s story.

    • miss t-lee

      That was the reason I didn’t watch also. My family just went though some real life legal sh*t pertaining to my nephew’s murder, so I can’t.

      • TheCollinB

        Condolences fam.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

      • Other_guy13

        Condolences

        • miss t-lee

          One is gone for the rest of his life, the other 2 got lengthy sentences but will see the light of day eventually.
          Still sucks though, and it doesn’t change anything.

          • Other_guy13

            I’ve always been of the mind of you talk a life and it’s not self defense or protecting your family then you forfeit your own. I’m truly sorry for your loss….nothing they do will ever seem like justice in my eyes. *hug*

            • miss t-lee

              They actually all got off lucky because it was originally a death penalty case. However, that would’ve been harder to get convictions. So, it’s a solace that at least we were able to guilty verdicts of everyone involved.

              • *hug that goes on for slightly too long*

                • miss t-lee

                  LOL
                  *hugs*

              • Other_guy13

                Our system is jacked either way you look at it. No justice for those who deserve it and too harsh punishments for those who don’t deserve them.

                • miss t-lee

                  A mess, the entire way around.

          • BrothasKeeper

            I’m sorry, T.

            • miss t-lee

              Thanks BK.

      • Val

        My condolences to you and your family, T.

        • miss t-lee

          Thnaks Val.

      • Mr. Mooggyy

        Condolences T.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

      • esa

        (heart)

        • miss t-lee

          Thanks Esa.

      • 909girl601world

        I am so sorry.

        • miss t-lee

          I appreciate it.

      • I’m sorry to hear that, Teesh. I see you post about missing him but never knew what happened. No shame in sitting this out.

        • miss t-lee

          Yeah.
          Thank you.

        • miss t-lee

          Check your Twitter Wu.

          • Wow. Senseless.

            Again, I’m so sorry.

            • miss t-lee

              Totally senseless.

      • SoonToBeMrs

        May God comfort your family.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you so much.

          • SoonToBeMrs

            Any time girl, anytime.

      • Ess Tee

        My deepest sympathies and condolences to you and your family, T.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

      • Me

        Sorry for your loss. I hope you get justice.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you. We did, technically.

      • Freebird

        Sorry about your loss T. I hope they get what they deserve.

      • Simms~

        Sorry that you’ve had to experience something like this. Condolences.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

      • PriceIsRightHorns

        *Hugs* Hang in there.

        • miss t-lee

          Thanks, chica.

      • Glo

        I’m so sorry to hear this. Sending prayers your way.

        • miss t-lee

          I appreciate that.

        • miss t-lee

          Please do. Thanks.

      • Brown Rose

        I am very sorry T. Damn.

        • miss t-lee

          Thanks, BR.

          • Brown Rose

            Ill send a prayer your way.

      • Cheech

        I’m sorry, Tee.

        • miss t-lee

          Thanks Cheech.

      • Nortey

        I’m sorry as well. ~eHug~

        • miss t-lee

          Thanks so much.

      • PhlyyPhree

        I’m sorry T.
        Prayers for you and your family.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        Sorry to hear this T.

        • miss t-lee

          Yeah, it’s been trying, but at least we’re at the end of this chapter.

          • Michelle is my First Lady

            It may be the end of this chapter, but continue to take care of you and your family for all the others. You all need each other more than ever.

            • miss t-lee

              Definitely. Just trying to make sure they’re good. He was the only for all of us. My brother’s only child. My father’s only grandchild. My sibs and I–our only nephew. We’re maintaining, but sh*t is difficult.

              • Michelle is my First Lady

                This seriously breaks my heart. Damn, Tee. E-hugs for you and your family.

                • miss t-lee

                  Thank you.?

      • Mary Burrell

        I am so sorry Sister. Peace and Blessings.

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you Mary.

      • kingpinenut

        :/

        • miss t-lee

          Preciate cha KP

          • kingpinenut

            Had me thinkin bout my cousin and sh!t….

            Will def send prayers y’alls way

            • miss t-lee

              Thanks so much.
              You hang in there too.

      • Quirlygirly

        Dang T..I’m sorry!

        I cant watch it either. It is just to much for my sensitivities to handle

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you Q.
          Yeah, I understand. Take care of yourself.

      • catgee12

        Condolences …

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

      • Valerie

        My condolences for your nephew.

        • miss t-lee

          Thanks Valerie.

      • Blueberry01

        My deepest condolences…

        • miss t-lee

          Thank you.

  • TheCollinB

    This man’s own father had the means to bail him out and wouldn’t. Of all the “what if” factors his story has this is the one that I can place blame squarely on his shoulders. The family said the father had the money but wouldn’t help initially before bail was eventually denied. Maybe if Kalief was a habitual offender I could almost understand being frustrated and saying “he needs to sit this time” but that wasn’t the case and further more his son that he raised from infancy was 16.

    N*ggas be fathers, you’re killing your sons – Jay, “Meet the Parents”

    • Shay

      Yea it was hard to watch his brother admit his father had the money. You could tell he had a hard time saying it and it still troubles him. Though I agree his father should have bailed him out 1) Kalief should never have had to be bailed out because the charge was bogus from jump, 2) if the system wasn’t so effed up NONE of this would have happened regardless of his father’s inaction, 3) his brother did say his father brushed it off as Kalief being bad and now unfortunately he has to live with the fact that he let his child sit in that inhumane situation that led to his mental breakdown and untimely death. This docu-series is excruciating to watch, and incensed/angry don’t come close to how it makes you feel, but the feelings are necessary for action to follow.

      • TheCollinB

        Cops are gonna be cops. They are consistent in NY for being wrong so pointing at them is fruitless. Looking to see what his family could’ve done is where the ball was dropped. His mom is asking neighbors for $900 and his bum a s s is sitting around letting this happen to his kid. Make the kid pay you back if it’s like that but don’t be a d*ck like that. His father lived in NY, he knew what that criminal justice system was like.

        • Shay

          I’m not trying to say that his father’s complacency wasn’t a factor in his son’s demise, I’m saying failure to get bail shouldn’t result in 3 years at Riker’s as a child, in solitary for over 14 months.

    • Me

      As much as it sounds tough to say “if you end up in jail, I’m going to let you sit there and think about what you did,” that type of tough love only works for white folks who know their kids will be home before they have to go back to school Monday morning. Black folks can’t afford to partner with the police department to scare our kids straight. The police play for keeps when it’s our bodies on the line. I’d rather reneg on my no beating a child stance than to deny my child freedom. I might as well disown you if I let you sit in jail instead of posting your bail.

      • “if you end up in jail, I’m going to let you sit there and think about what you did,”

        I used to halfway think like that. NEVER. I would now never let a loved one sit in jail – especially my children. Because there’s nothing I can see them doing that would be worth paying for with their life. And brown and black men and women are dying at disproportionate rates in these cells.

        Nope. Never.

      • Another Man’s Rhubarb

        THIS

    • Brown Rose

      Damn. Did they interview the father–that wasn’t mentioned in the article. Did he feel any remorse for letting his son die?

      • catgee12

        So far the father hasn’t been interviewed. If I remember correctly he had already left the family when this happened and didn’t seem to be checking for them.

        • Brown Rose

          Awful. Auful man putting his son in harms way like that. He was in jail for 3 years. Nothing.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        Question for you: Would you watch the interview of the father? For all I care, that man can go to heII.

        • Brown Rose

          I would have read it in an interview to see if he felt any remorse for allowing the system to kill his son. As I said, I can’t watch it. And yes, that excuse for a father can definitely go to the 10th level of h*ll.

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      “This man’s own father had the means to bail him out and wouldn’t.”
      This bothered me when I learned about the father. How can he sleep at night knowing he had a chance to get his son out of that situation but didn’t and only to found out his son had suffered through years of physical abuse and neglect. Fathers, please do better.

    • Sigh.

    • Wise Old Owl

      Sandra Bland’s Mother and female relatives did not bail her out…yet they received the wrongful death settlement…so is her mother to blame and a n*gga, who failed her daughter and killed her…no, just like Kalief, a racist unjust criminal justice system and AmeriKKKa killed her…but the blame where it belongs, White Supramacy and Institutional Racism!

      • TheCollinB

        There’s a diff between it being able to bail someone out and refusing to do so tho.

        • Wise Old Owl

          And Sanda Bland’s Mother was both…she had the financial means and refused and stopped returning her calls…she was not her favorite daughter and they had issues…her Mother should not get a pass either based upon your standards for Kalief’s Father…

          • TheCollinB

            Info I was unaware of so you’re right. Her mother is just as guilty.

  • Calvin

    Response to the people who don’t want to watch for X reason: make sure you get off your behind and vote for liberals who support criminal justice reform. Otherwise, you get people like Kim-Jong Illogical in office, who in turn appoint people like Old Baby Sessions to deny people their rights.

    • Other_guy13

      I love the nicknames lol

    • 909girl601world

      Response to you: what makes you think we don’t vote? Or that we need to get up off our behinds?

      That is a rather insulting – as much as I’ll be insulted by someone on a website – assumption for you to make. No correlation. At all.

      The current administration was not my vote. Don’t blame me for that ish.

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        This was a local issue in arguably the most diverse and tolerant city in the country.

        If that happens in NYC can you imagine what’s popping off in Louisiana? Georgia? Alabama?

        • TheCollinB

          Louisiana is off the chain and their jails only pay minimum wage.

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            Literally off the chain!

          • I_AmU

            To the CO’s not the inmates. Correct?

          • That situation can’t end well. I’m sure the COs are almost as bad, if not worse, than the people incarcerated.

        • Other_guy13

          Fulton County Jail has a new documentary about it…Idk if I want to watch it. Being that it’s the jail in my city….I never want to see the inside of it…not even on TV.

        • Val

          Diverse. Yes. Tolerant? As long as you don’t go into the wrong neighborhood.

          • I_AmU

            This is the absolute truth. They are not tolerant. Not in Howard Beach, Riverdale, Upper East or West Side, Park Slope, most of that Island of Staten and neighborhoods in Queens. I don’t want to be tolerated. All that means is you don’t like who I am. But in order to keep the peace I’ll keep my mouth shut. I prefer if you don’t like me for whatever reason that you’re clearly identifiable in the name of safety. Trust if I don’t eff with you, you’ll be the first to know.

        • Epsilonicus

          “If that happens in NYC can you imagine what’s popping off in Louisiana? Georgia? Alabama?”

          Angola in Louisiana as a perfect example.

    • Blueberry01

      Did you say Old Baby Sessions? ???

  • miss t-lee

    I haven’t been watching, but I’ve read about him at length, and you’re right–this is a real horror story.
    This whole situation is just terrible.

  • DrAlexStreet

    I’m a CUNY professor so I knew Khalief’s story before this doc, but it doesn’t make this any less painful to watch. In fact, actually seeing what he went through makes it so much worse. Angry isn’t the word for what I feel for what they did to this young man. No one should be subjected to this type of treatment. Rikers needs to be shut down, our young men and women should not be an adult facilities when they are in their teens. Trials should not be dragged out for years. It’s such a broken system.

  • esa

    a special shout out to his mother Venida Browder who died last October, just a few days after TIME was announced. she too is a victim of this tragedy. may they both rest in peace ~*~

  • Freebird

    Scariest and sickest thing to watch right now. Ive almost been this dude a couple of times in my life, on the verge of going to jail or having my record fcuked up because too many medicore men get to be law enforcement in the Land of the Klan. Friends of mine have been locked with no trials. This s*it happens to black men and boys everyday and it’s a fear for many of us even when we are not doing anything in. this disturbed terrorist filled nation. It fcuks with your peace and it can effect your relationships. Maybe a beer on the White House lawn will make me feel better about it one day.

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