Moonlight’s powerful resonance

In Moonlight Juan (played by Mahershala Ali) teaches Chiron (Jaden Piner) how to swim.

Watching Moonlight, this year’s Oscar Best Picture, was the most emotionally taut 111 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.

It powerfully illustrates my premise that children living in challenging environments without love, nurturing and guidance would benefit from a community of responsible, caring adults who could fill in the gap.

Chiron, the only child of a single mom, appeared to be on his own most of the time. After escaping a neighborhood fight, Juan, a nice older guy took him under his wing, with genuine interest and caring. Chiron seemed to cautiously trust and open up until he asked if he was a drug dealer and Juan admitted that he was.

NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross interviewed  the movie’s filmmaker Barry Jenkins, and playwright Tarell McCraney. Both men grew up in the Liberty City housing project in Miami where the film was shot. Both of their mothers succumbed to crack addictions from self medicating to cope with childhood sex abuse.

The movie resonates because it strikes close to home for too many people.

Rather than writing off neighborhoods suffering from complicated drug issues let’s tackle the problem in a new way.

I believe that trustworthy, reliable people live in every neighborhood, even ones many might consider “bad.” Indeed, one of the men in the interview said that generous neighbors looked out for him and his mother when the electricity or the phone were turned off. People from school knew to call the neighbors.

This life saving generosity is not uncommon but let’s make it easy for people to find each other, especially children and the elderly when those supposed to look out for them are not steady on their feet. This is already happening.

“The Black Star Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, action-based organization founded in 1996 to provide educational services that improve the lives of less-advantaged Black communities and to close the racial academic achievement gap. TBSP accomplishes its mission by educating, organizing and mobilizing parents and volunteers, and working with community partners to facilitate a wide variety of solid programs, high-visibility campaigns and other special initiatives.”

The Black Star Project is looking for volunteers and motivators and would be grateful even for two hours a year – though they wouldn’t turn away more hours than that.

There are many paths to take to improve people’s lives. As for me, I continue to work to facilitate home sharing with people who like each other.

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