The final episode of the telling tale of the exonerated five was beautifully placed together in the 1-hour special titled When They See Us Now. This was a conversation moderated by Oprah herself, and only she could have orchestrated this episode. In this episode, we witness a conversation with the cast and producers of When They See Us. As well as the Exonerated Five themselves. it is an emotional interview that covers the experiences that everyone went through as actors and gets to see an in-depth interview of what the Exonerated Five experienced during their time in prison in the justice system.
Out of all five of these different episodes, I would say this is the easiest to watch. It is still tough especially when Antron McCray is being interviewed. However, Oprah and Ava Duvernay were able to capture the emotions, words, and experiences of these people in such a remarkable manner that it makes you feel their emotions. I don’t believe anyone else could do this any better.
One thing I noticed throughout the entire episode was that Oprah’s eyes were filled with tears. I did not see her shed one, yet you can see the clear-cut emotion she expressed throughout the entire interview. For a woman of her stature, someone who has been doing this for decades now to show this amount of emotion for this specific interview reviews how powerful, emotional, and exhausting this has been on black and brown Folk. That’s what is captured here and that is the most breath-taking experience of this entire episode. You’ll see crying many times, because of the magnitude of the emotional toll this takes on those that were apart of it. We all saw When They See Us, but to hear how all of the exonerated 5 experienced the entire scenario as individuals, not as a Central Park 5, but as Yusef, Korey, Antron, Kevin, and Raymond was gut-wrenching and tear-jerking in the most painful manner. These five men went through hell and back, lost their entire innocence and childhood. And 30 years later they are men on a quest to tell their stories and help change the system that has been designed to oppress, destroy, and control.
This entire series is a reflection, and an exposure of a system that was designed to obliterate, to oppress, to degrade, and to destroy. and these men’s voices reveal the horrors of the US justice system.
I must say Oprah’s moderation is beautiful, it’s something that I enjoyed a lot with seeing some of the young boys say “hi Oprah”. the magnitude of seeing such a woman, such a black woman, with so much stature and presence must have been a dream come true.
In a review of this episode, I must say, watch it after you’ve seen the first four. It is a recap of everything that happened in when they see us and it is a beautiful exposition of people’s Recollections of the experience. The most powerful Parts come from learning the experiences of the exonerated five. Raymond said that his attorney told him when he was convicted 5 years is no time you’re still young don’t worry about it to paraphrase. But five years at 13, 14, 15,16 is a lifetime. That’s a childhood, that’s teenage years take it from someone. Kevin said the whole world hated them. When they went in they were children, and there were so many rumors of what people were going to do to them when they got into prison. Yusef said the worst crime you can commit was rape aside from child molestation. These men had to fight for their lives in prison. Some of them spent seven years, Corey spent 13.
One part of this episode that stood out to me was when Michael K Williams was speaking about his experience. Growing up in New York City at the time of the exonerated five’s Central Park Case, he was a young man that in his words paraphrased looked like he was part of the “wildin” experience. He is also a victim of “Wildin” as evident by the scar on his face. He said that when he saw the five boys he didn’t see any young men who were “Wildin”. However, like many other people he believed in these young men being convicted because of how the news spun everything. And it was because of this that Michael K Williams changed his entire appearance so that he didn’t look like those young boys. This is an example of how traumatizing and how exhausting it must have been as a young black or brown youth at this time. To know that you could have been one of these five young men at any given moment must have been the most anxiety felt an exhausting experience anybody used can go through. Imagine what the exonerated five went through.
Something that broke my heart watching this was that the five men never truly talked about their experiences in prison to each other or at all. For so long we put them together as a group. But we forgot these men went through five completely different experiences while in prison. The seeing of each other’s experiences was for the first time when they watched When They See Us. And that right there something’s to note, it shows how much trauma they’ve all been through. For so long they didn’t tell each other about what they went through, they didn’t even speak about it. There was a point in time when they couldn’t speak about it. And they all lived and still live with that trauma, they all went through those trials, they all went through the prison system. But none of them expressed what they went through, or what they saw because it was far too traumatic to go back into.
This is just a recollection of the horrors that so many innocent prisoners go through. It is a direct representation of the pain is so many young men and women experience throughout the years that are taken from them. This type of hurt was festering within each and every one of them and you can only imagine how they felt after they saw each other’s experiences. There are no words to express how you could feel about that. You can only be grateful that these five men are closer because of this.
When they see us now helps conclude the grueling horror story that is When They See Us. I know this fight is not finished, not by a long shot. We have a lot of work to do to fix this justice system. Let me rephrase that, we have a lot of work to do to reshape and redesign this justice system. For it is not broken, it was designed this way and has been taken advantage of by people That don’t see Justice. They see a means to an end. When they see us, they see dollar signs, they don’t see people, they don’t see children.
This is When They See Us Now, they will always see us now, cuz we’re not going anywhere. They tried to bury us, but as Yusef said, they buried diamonds and they didn’t realize they were still diamonds.