The Rwandan genocide trials, the South African committee on truth and reconciliation, the Serbian wartrials in the Hague. Why?
retribution? expiation of guilt? scapegoating? fixing the blame to absolve those who continue to do such things?
Justice needs a voice, the truth like debrising a wound hurts, but it cleanses. Why is this?
guilt, repentance, justice, payment, retribution, forgiveness. These are all loaded religious terms. but they are also terms for our social and legal system to use to right wrongs, exact punishment, and to set the record straight. The big reason is that if we can not trust the past to have been relatively just than we have no hope that if we are dragged to the bar that justice will be done then either.
This is the theme of the movie, the past failed many black victims of hate, of lynchings, of violence. Their names will never make it into books or movies, but a few, as examples of contrition, examples of a changing socio-political climate, examples of changing hearts, their names make it into our collective consciousnesses. These lend support to the hope that there is progress in racial relationships in this country(USA), that the past can be with its ghosts- sung to sleep so that we can sleep at night without the Klan burning crosses down the block. Without police officers abusing their authority to murder, to profile — driving while black, without the judges dealing out injustice and evil as if that were their job.
And that is the value of watching the movie. and the hope that justice left undone in this world will be rightfully applied in the next. Which ought to leave us all a little concerned, for often we grabbed that larger piece, and not just as kids.