A Black teenager’s day ends with a violent police encounter in "17," a new short film released by social justice organization Sankofa.org and music streaming service Tidal on Friday (February 17).
Sankofa.org describes "17" as a "visual EP," and the 17-minute project features songs by singers Raphael Saadiq, Ty Dolla $ign, Mali Music and Elijah Blake that underscore the film’s largely wordless scenes. Actor and singer Jordan Grizzle portrays Jacobi Nelson, a 17-year-old who hangs out with friends, considers a scholarship opportunity and rides his American flag-adorned bicycle before encountering flashing blue-and-red lights. Although "17" leaves Nelson’s ultimate fate ambiguous, a subsequent scene contrasting Tamir Rice and Dylann Roof‘s treatment by police confirms the film’s stance.
In addition to the running time and the protagonist’s age, Sankofa.org attributes "17’s" name to Trayvon Martin‘s age when vigilante George Zimmerman killed him. Tidal released the visual EP 12 days after Martin’s birthday and nine before the fifth anniversary of his killing.
The project is the work of writers and directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, who previously created Sankofa.org’s star-studded "Against the Wall" anti-police violence PSA. Musican, activist and organization founder Harry Belafonte executive produced the short, which he told Billboard is "meant to shift the paradigm of racial bias and illuminate the prolific issue of the carnage besieging Black and Brown communities all across this country."
Sankofa.org invites audiences to post their stories about being 17 on social media with the hashtag, #Iam17.
Watch "17" above, and let us know what you think in the comments.