I hated on Antwone Fisher and I am sorry I did

I must admit I didn’t want to see it at first. I told my wife Cheryl, “If this is going to be another movie about the Black man’s struggles and him not winning in the end, then forget it. I’m tired of that stuff. I need uplift.”
I must admit I didn’t want to see it at first. I told my wife Cheryl, “If this is going to be another movie about the Black man’s struggles and him not winning in the end, then forget it. I’m tired of that stuff. I need uplift.”

Her response was, “Stop hatin’!”

Who me? A hater? Timeout. Several minutes of deep introspection later, I finally admitted that I was maybe, kinda, sorta, you know, hating…slightly. Like Antwone Fisher, I too am a professional screenwriter and though I’ve sold several screenplays I have yet to have one produced. And in Hollywood it’s all about produced credits, Baby. Now for the kicker…I didn’t even know what the movie was about! Now that wasn’t very Christian of me, was it? So, I took my wife to The Grove 14 to see it. To my surprise, Antwone Fisher is an excellent movie and an Oscar contender. It is one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen but in a way you might not suspect or at least I didn’t.

My favorite scene is when Antwone returns to his aunt’s house after visiting the mother who abandoned him at birth. Antwone’s Aunt opens the front door and behind her stands a congregation of family (male/female, light/dark, short/tall, fat/skinny, young/old, etc.) all excited to meet him! The camera follows Antwone through the house as he’s greeted by family member after member. When he gets to the dining room on the table sits enough soul food to feed a tiny homeless shelter. So, Big Momma (what’s a Black family without a Big Momma) calls Antwone over, touches his face, and gives him a good looking over. Then she says something (I can’t remember what) and then everyone cheers and digs in.

There I sat speechless, listening to the periodic sniffles of the upper middle class Whites around me. I too was deeply moved because here I’d spent the last 1 1/2 hours watching a story about a guy born in prison, separated from his mother at birth, who goes to stay with an abusive Black foster family, who then joins the Navy and is forced into psychotherapy for his anger problem, to then find true love in his first girlfriend, to then seek out his birth family (with the encouragement of his Black psychiatrist/father figure) by looking up last names in the Cleveland City white pages.

And me, and I’m a guy who has family all across the country (and I have their phone numbers) yet I couldn’t tell you the first names of 90 percent of my second cousin’s children. Hmmm. Now I could hit you off with excuses like back in the 70s my parents moved from Detroit to Minneapolis for better jobs and never returned. Or
after my father was murdered he served as the missing link to his side of the family but anyway you want to look at it, it’s just a damn shame! The institution of family teaches us relationships and our heritage. It helps to define and explain who we are as people. In a perfect world families should be filled with love, encouragement, and provision. My family on both sides has all of that, but for whatever reason I wasn’t reaching out to them. Flash forward two days later. My bedroom.

There I stand getting chewed out by my wife for not keeping better contact with my family. I think it all started when I stated I wanted our future children to have strong relationships with their family members but it’s kind of hard to remember things when your wife’s digging in your ass. And as much as I wanted to shut her up, I knew she was right.

One of the things I’ve always envied about Cheryl’s family situation was the fact that she actually knows them…all of them. So to her, Antwone’s homecoming scene was familiar, but to me it was foreign. Flash forward New Year’s Day 2003.

I called my 81-year-old aunt who lives in Detroit. I told her how Antwone Fisher inspired me and she in return told me over an hour’s worth of family history; from stories about my father to what all of m

January 6, 2003
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