The Truth About the Movie DETROIT! – by Marvin #theTableSetters #Detroit

The Truth is:

Everything from our physical being to our intellectual prowess of street culture, medical innovations that were tested on our persons without our permission, to breeding us for selling. All this for the financial gain of others, mainly Anglos. Moreover, from the “Ghetto-izing” (Ghetto-*) of our culture, to overtly gobbling up everything we had the boldness to wear in the ghetto. From our style of hair, dress, music, dance, and other abilities that were stolen in some form and sold. So now we come down to history, our history as African-Americans. It is American History. So who gets to tell it? We live in such divided communities (redlining*) that it is a sensitive subject when it comes to, yet again, exploiting our stories for financial gain. The gap between the everyday experience of black and white people in this country is as broad as a suburb of Detroit with all white people and a great educational environment due to property tax dollars in wealthy areas and the struggles of a large amount of minority youth who are not in school in Detroit (and other urban cities) with high levels of crime in most areas due to lack of education and unemployment. Cities like Chicago (less in Detroit) is so out of sorts that having less than eight murdered on a weekend is considered a low number. Also, Detroit, even though it is starting to address there situations and have honest conversations with representatives from all areas included in the discussion still struggles with their narratives of what really happened. But honesty is not always represented well, or the full story told in narratives that involve telling “our stories”. And frankly, it pisses me off.

The truth is:

The film Detroit, as timely as it is, is a narrative that misrepresents black folks based on who was allowed to tell the story of one of many American Tragedies when it comes to the African-American community. Is it timely, yes? Well done, I am sure it is. Accurate, in some instances, yes. Creative license taken? Of course. However, I believe, just like Selma (Ava Duvernay re-wrote 60% of script, no credit given) that from a perspective of an African-American filmmaker (like myself) the story would have been vastly seen through a different lens. However, that was not the case. Due to the extensive racism that exists in the Hollywood “studio system” of who gets to tell their cultural stories, or any story for that matter, this was not a productive film that forwarded any of those discussions. Nor did it forward the conversation of who has the power to approve who tells the story. The black narrative is not only under represented in film and television (and in all narrative areas), but it is also unrepresented with perspectives from filmmakers who are black, or for that matter of Latin or Asian backgrounds. So yes, it is a sore spot with me. I do not subscribe for anyone to see the film. Also, the market place is bearing that out. Let me be very clear, it’s not the full responsiblity of the actors. An actor relys on the director for performance. An actor accepts a role. And considering the horrible path of blacks in cinema, they stand unscathed in terms of my disappointment in the filmmakers.

Mojo Film Tracking

Domestic Total as of Aug. 13, 2017: $13,421,464 (Estimate)
Distributor: Annapurna Pictures, 
Release Date: July 28, 2017
Genre: Crime Drama, Runtime: 2 hrs. 23 min.
MPAA Rating: R Production Budget: $34 million
( film must double its production cost to begin making money)

The Truth is:

I believe it is unfortunate that people of color do not trust our narratives with Anglos. I believe in working together, but the scales are beyond unbalanced. It is going to take a long time to balance the scales, which I doubt will happen in my lifetime. Seems like every endeavor when it comes to people of color will “take a long time.” Why? Because, once again, and my Asian and Latino and Latina people of color will back me up on this, it has been the entire history of this country (and continues to be in so many ways) that this obstruction of the narrative has taken place since 1776. Who tells the stories, who writes the books, who teaches in schools, who is the majority, and who is the minority?  Even when the majority are the minority, when it comes to stories, it never works out for the minorities unless we are in charge of our own narrative. It actually saddens me to make that statement, but The truth is, it’s true.

The Truth is:

As someone who has a non-profit that preaches sitting at The Table, this subject tests me the most. However, we need to continue to try and talk and discuss at length who gets to tell our narratives as people of color, who gets to decide that, and better yet; how can we get people of color to step up and not be dismayed by the powers that be and still tell their own story?  I can tell you personally that the frustration in not being heard is overwhelming to the point of not wanting to even attempt to be heard. However, I am personally committed to telling my story, my way. I am determined to stand at the gates of financiers, independent film companies, foreign film entities, and domestic studios to pitch and tell my story and to have an opportunity to tell my story my way. I do expect and welcome collaborators with me of all ages, race, and genders to join me in telling those stories that I deem significant. Also, hopefully, someday, someone in power (that looks like me and doesn’t look like me) to see it that way. I am optimistic. So then Detroit throws me for a loop. I am sure it has thrown Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman to win an Oscar for directing, for a loop as well.

The Truth is:

If you’re not a person of color, it is a hard and awkward position to understand, and most Anglos simply don’t! Mainly due to a lack of conversation about why we, as black folks (and others of color), would feel the way we do. Also, there is a fear of saying the wrong thing which also stops the conversation from happening. Fair? To some extent, it is not fair, but neither was the Transatlantic slave trade, auctioning of human beings, breeding and selling people (my ancestors), centuries of murdering our brown bodies, followed by Jim Crow, and many other forms of systemic racism (school to prison pipeline). Life is not fair, we all learn that. Black folks did not cause this, but we do have a responsibility to change this narrative. How?


The truth is:

We must metaphorically act as if we were at The March on Washington where Dr. King gave his speech. Or Bloody Sunday on Edmond Pettus Bridge (Selma) with all those people marching. In other words, we must flood the streets with story tellers in all forms. From filmmakers, authors, photographers, orators, and teachers, who stand at studio offices, TV executives, and publishers doors and demand to tell our stories ourselves with manuscripts, scripts, photographs, art works, speeches, and poems ready to go. So lest you think this is an exaggeration, it is not. The gap is wide as miles 1–14 in Detroit!

The Truth is:

Here are the numbers that prevent narratives from being told by people of color concerning the film and television business. I have not even discussed numbers for my Latin and Asian folks. Without even looking I can tell you they’re worse.

The Numbers:
Film Directors: 8–1 white, Writers: 3–1 white (that gap is closing, thank goodness), Film Studio Heads 94% White, 100% Male. (same, if not worse for film studios)

For more on this, View the Hollywood Diversity Report, 2015

The Truth is:

This brings me back to Detroit, the movie. It is uncomfortable in so many ways. How ironic that a town that somewhat balanced out the middle class by creating jobs (the auto industry) that evened the playing field without it being a sport where brown skinned people could be treated a little bit fair. Most families, even if they didn’t live in the same areas (and they didn’t because white people would not allow it) could at least have somewhat equal pay, a good job, and put their kids through their schools in their area of 8 miles or below. So why has this movie got me riled?

Detroit Poster, 1942

The Truth is:

Well, the fact is, we could see it coming 8 miles away.  The movie posters plastered all over every major “urban city” depicts cops standing off against brown folks, with the tag line, “It’s Time We Knew.”  It’s time we knew what? That “some police” (not all, as I have friends and family that are officers) have been brutal murderers and abusers to people of color? And who’s time is it to know? Certainly not people of color, we’ve been knowing! And I’ll dare you to actually put in a voice over in the trailer for this film that “we will reveal the truth!”  That misrepresents the blood spilled by my ancestors who made it a point to discuss every incident that seemed to mostly fall upon deaf ears. The Detroit tragedy, as awful as it is, sits in a line of many since the inception of this country which racism was truly The Birth of A Nation called The United States of America!

A small list of atrocities:
Slavery itself, Tulsa Town Burning, Rosewood Town Burning, Emmitt Till murder, hangings, draggings behind trucks, seven Nation of Islam people shot in Los Angeles, Black Panthers murdered in Philidelphia, Watts Riots, LA Riots, Rodney King….

Still photo from movie, Birth of a Nation

The truth is:

America does need to know the truth. I call all story tellers of color and people who want to help us tell our story with us in positions of leadership and power to affect the viewpoint of the story; it is time! Detroit proves it. Even in comedy, a film like Girl’s Night is a prime example of great collaboration. Yes, I saw the movie, it is a riot, and the box office reflects it. Go see it!

Girls Trip:

Domestic Total as of Aug. 13, 2017: $97,139,980/Foreign Total, $9 Million & Counting. Predicting 120–150 million domestic, 15–20 million foreign=Total 135 to 170 million. Production Budget: $19 million

A must See Interview, then watch the trailer:

*Ghetto Etymology-

The word “ghetto” comes from the Jewish area of Venice, the Venetian Ghetto in Cannaregio. However, there is no agreement among etymologists about the origins of the Venetian language term. The various theories trace it to: a special use of Venetian getto, or “foundry” (there was one near the site of that city’s ghetto in 1516);[3] Yiddish get, or “deed of separation”; a clipped form of Egitto (“Egypt”), from Latin Aegyptus (presumably in memory of the exile); or Italian borghetto, or “small section of a town” (diminutive of borgo, which is of Germanic origin; see borough). By 1899 the term had been extended to crowded urban quarters of other minority groups.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A HOLC 1936 security map of Philadelphia showing redlining of lower income neighborhoods.[1]

In the United States, redlining is the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic composition of those areas. While the best known examples of redlining have involved denial of financial services such as bankingor insurance,[2] other services such as health care[3] or even supermarkets[4] have been denied to residents (or in the case of retail businesses like supermarkets, simply located impractically far away from said residents) to result in a redlining effect.[5] Reverse redlining occurs when a lender or insurer targets particular neighborhoods that are predominantly nonwhite, not to deny residents loans or insurance, but rather to charge them more than in a non-redlined neighborhood where there is more competition.[6][7]

The Forgiveness Table – Marvin

(from Marvin’s blog, Paid In Full, December 7, 2016)

Matthew John Schmitt, my co-founder in The Table Setters, shared this post on Facebook already about the apology to Dakota Native Americans from a host of retired US military soldiers in regards to the oil pipeline recently temporarily halted. It’s awesome in it’s written form. God has gifted me with the ability of stories in film. This is a powerful 2.30 second visual of what real forgiveness looks like.  Straight, no chaser!


Not yelling and pontificating on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC, or even Facebook. Real Forgiveness means a real apology. It also requires both parties to come to The Table of Forgiveness and to be specific of the injustices perpetrated on each other. Or, by one to another. For this country, that’s broad brushes of paint filled with blood! The blood of Native Americans, the Blood of Mexican-Americans, the blood of African-Americans, and yes, blood of my Asian-Americans (including Pacific Islanders) brothters and sisters ancestors. Ancestory from my good friends in the Asian community like Diane Ujiiye, and Jason Chu! I mention my Asian brothers and sisters because they need some upfront acknowledgement to their ancestral sacrifices. The history books overlook horrible injustices to them, me, and all previouly mentioned groups above.

Let’s not bullshit, where does that leave all my pink (white) brothers and sisters of a different hue in terms of forgiveness, apologies, and real listening? Real listening means not playing chess with people of color that have deep wounds. No, “Yeah but’s”. It means just taking the time to hear our seemingly drawn out historically convoluted stories of our history in the context of being a person of color in America! It means, actually listening at a few Table Settings before you point-counter-point. If you haven’t been told, I’m telling you now, it pisses us off so much. Just simply listen. Listening requires no response. And, when and if you feel the need to apologize, be real. See this video, that’s a real f’ing apology. And for the record, my father served in a racist, seperatist WWII military with honor for his country and him regardless of the injustices he experienced (watch the movie Solder’s Story). Members of my family serve and honorably served in in all wars, other members of my family serve and have served as police (that’s black and white officers in my family), fire, and EMT; doctors, nurses, etc. So any unconstructive (no other form of protest for him to use) critique of Kaepernick (NFL) excuses of what he’s doing by taking a knee is redundent and hypocritical! The exact reason you’re fighting against what he’s doing is the reason all soliders fight for his ability to protest in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Look at King, Ali, Tommy Smith and John Carlos (68′ Olympics); look at The Woolworth lunch counter participants, look at water hose victims in 64′, watch Bloody Sunday participants on the bridge in Selma, read the bios of Don Cornelious of Soul Train, watch Michael Jackson who stood his ground with MTV, or I personally might not have had a career, and ask countless others in Dakota. The list could go on and on.

This apology was beyond, “heart felt”. My pink brother laid it on the line, spoke clearly, specifically, and succinctly about what the wrongs were. Paused. Bowed.

And then lowered his head in asking for full forgiveness in front of a tribal leader.

Interviews about the forgiveness event: Real Journalism, Not Opinion!

You can hear it in his voice as the speaker wears the uniform of still the most brutal war in our US history, our own civil war; and in that uniform, he apologizes. You can see it on the faces of other soldiers who kneel with him and ask for forgiveness under his representation. And, you can hear it in the accepting of his apology by the tribal leader saying wisely, “ this is a 1st step” in that forgiveness process. Most, not all Americans, so let me be clear: my brothers and sisters of European Anglo descent want this quick fix. 400 years is not a quick fix, the land we took is not a quick fix. The pain exhibited by most people of color from 400 years of mental, physical, and emotional harm will not be fixed overnight as we did not take this land peacefully overnight. And the fruit enjoyed by many came at the cost of people with skin that looks like mine or a derivative of: Asians, African, Native, Pacific Islanders, and Latinos who paid a heavy cost for “this land is your land, this land is my land” song, but did not reap that fruit. Instead they picked the fruit and reaped no rewards except systematic ghettos strategically placed in cities, reservations, and some rural areas all over the nation! So, even though that song is a folk song as a protest song with an ironic twist that we know that’s not qute true!

History tells us that certain lands are my land, certain areas are my areas, and certain schools are my schools, but not all! So this is a heavy price that we are baring the fruit of after years of ignorance in regards to how we avoid and ignore the injustices. And now, that price is upon us as a nation to be Paid in Full. So, what will we do? Will we continue to scream and shout. Or, will we follow the lead of the Dakota tribe and stand strong? And, will we follow the lead of this amazing group of people who came to ask forgiveness? Or, will we continue to teach generation after generation on what it means to be separate in church under God, in school under tax dollars, and in zip codes under city codes? I say, we are collectively better.I say I have hope in all Tables set regardless if I’m sitting with a Klan member, black lives matter activist, or whomever comes humbly to the table, ready to listen. Just like this video sets the example…..

The people who came to build the railroads, yes, my Asian brothers and sisters, ancestors of Jason Garreth Loke and Diane Ujiiye, is not a quick fix! In my humble opinion, I learned from this Native American wiseman that it’s the 1st steps that count! Now at Table Setters, we wanna come take 1st steps with you. As Thelonious Monk said in his famous jazz piece: This is Straight, No Chaser! It’s a hard pill to swallow, but this is the fruit of our good old country. We truly earned the Red, the white, and the blue stripes as if they were on our backs for (all) of our our past injustices whether brown, pink, and shades there in-between as people of color, and pink people. 🙂 There has been a sacrifice made in this country. And not all those sacrifices have been acknowledged!

My Table has many cups that runeth over for many pieces of bread to be broken. Here, take this in remembrance of what we all participated in. Drink this in solidarity with me as to not repeat those actions and to take responsibility for the injustices of the past. Write with me the New history books so it reflects the real colors of our flag from the truth! Not one man’s truth. But the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God. Please, Please Help us God.

-Marvin Wadlow Jr

  • Son of Marvin Wadlow Sr a WWII Honored Vet
  • Son of Virginia Lee Wadlow who built fuselages for WWII bombers after suffering through racial injustices in the workplace that she built them.
  • I am Father to Marvin Pulefaasaasina Wadlow III, Morgan Malosi Wadlow, and Malcolm Alofa Wadlow.
  • My father, probably is a descendant of Ghanaian or Nigerian slaves stolen from Africa and brought through the middle passage to America.
  • My sons are descendants of African and Polynesian Blood from my brothers and sisters of Pacific Islander Asians who’s land was also taken from them! I’m so proud of my sons’ Asian blood!