(REVIEW) The film “Between Mercy and Me” centers on Hugo and Mercy, a Black man and White woman who bond over their love for music but find themselves drawn into conflict over the racial division in their city that threatens to divide them as well.
Faith-based dramas typically do not deal with the issue of race. Tyler Perry movies aside, the only Christian racial drama I can recall in the past 20 years was an intense racial melodrama called “Grace Card” back in 2010. That one was not especially well reviewed or a box office success. So it’s not surprising Christian films haven’t tackled the problem much since.
But “Between Mercy and Me” writer/director Craig Lamar Brown wasn’t making the movie because he knew it would be a hit, but because he saw how the toxic racial discourse was harming the country.
“The whole George Floyd thing happened, and I just looked at how the world responded to what happened to him being killed,” he said. “And there was just a lot of disconnect, especially within the church around how to talk about race in a healthy and productive way. And I’m like, ‘Man, this is terrible.’ Everyone’s social media feed was just on fire. It was like, guys, we missed this. We picked sides. We picked left and we picked right, and it didn’t add anything to fight what was happening.”
So Craig Brown started working on a movie that would talk about these issues and create a model for Christians to talk about them going forward. He drew from his own experiences of being a Black Christian man who married a White woman and tried to craft a story that would help both Black and White Christians understand each other.
“I just took from what I saw in culture,” he said. “I’m like, ‘All right, well this is where we’re at. We have anger and frustration on one side, and we have passivity on the other side. So how do we fix this?’ And so I took a Black worship leader and I took a White worship leader, two leaders in the church to really look at perspective. I feel like in a lot of these conversations around race, that’s what we miss, is perspective.”
Craig Brown is one of a growing number of Christians who are tired of what they see as the toxic and polarized discourse about race from American Christians and are charting another path forward. Black Christian sociologist George Yancy described the racial gridlock in the country in his book “Beyond Racial Division” as a war between “colorblind” advocates, who want to pretend systemic racism doesn’t exist, and “anti-racists,” who promote a combative war strategy for defeating racism that involves silencing the voices of White people in the conversation.
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