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Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in “When They See Us” Film

When They See Us

The events on which the series is based are so dramatic and cruel that on a wave of emotions, I hurry to share my impressions with you as soon as possible. Everyone should know and see this story with their own eyes, and this should not be limited to an audience from the USA. The title of the series the When they see us, has a deep meaning, reflecting the plot as well as possible.

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To avoid going into the usual retelling of the series, I would like to identify the problems that it affects immediately. The whole series is based on the relationship between teenagers and government officials. On top of this base lies a massive layer of racial and ethnic discrimination; as we know, the detained teenagers were either African-American or Mexican. The difference follows this in social status, privileges, and stereotypes; we will discuss each of the problems in more depth.

Relationship Between Teenagers and Government Officials

This type of relationship, especially during the times presented in the series, was agitated. The weakness of very young people in the face of the state hurts our feelings, but we should not be surprised. This problem was both before the events described and after, up to the present day. Through its official representatives, the state monopolizes the right to administer justice, and this is unfortunate. In our case, government agencies are utterly indifferent to the fact that there are inconsistencies, up to DNA analysis. They need to execute the plan, even if they have to send completely innocent people to prison to implement it.

Discrimination Based on Race and Ethnicity

The series touches on racial and ethnic discrimination, although it is not apparent. At that time in the United States, the objects of discrimination were African Americans and Mexicans. If the movement for the rights of African Americans (started by Martin Luther King) was already gaining momentum, then Mexicans are still quietly showing disapproval. Thus, the case of teenagers has not yet caused such anger in society, although many felt injustice. Teenagers were a convenient target, and the fact of their ethnicity only played into the hands of the authorities.

Social Status

The topic of social status may not be so acutely touched upon in the series, but it shows the complete vulnerability of teenagers to the law. The eternal problem of blaming someone weaker in absentia than you are still present. The series perfectly illustrates the total dependence of teenagers on power and parents on children. The families of each child feel their responsibility not so much to the authorities as to their child, and therefore they fight to the end. The status of a parent obliges this, but it is not essential, but the feeling that arises inside an adult.


The topic of privileges is well illustrated by the example of government representatives who beat out the testimony they needed. As you know, the state has a monopoly on violence and other levers of pressure. In our case, law enforcement officers use various psychological stress methods that make the lives of teenagers unbearable. The state only needed to demonstrate strength, and they came across an opportunity when it was necessary to break underage people to close their needs.


The entire broadcast life of teenagers is based on the topic of stereotypes. They encounter it both in prison (where rapists are treated particularly harshly) and in their later life. Prison is a stigma for life, a crime a person got there, so it is pretty difficult for our heroes to re-integrate into a new life. We are surrounded by many stereotypes that prevent us from living fully, but it’s time to stop obeying them. Everyone, even if they are a criminal, mentally ill, or just a person who stumbled, deserves a chance for a wholly healthy life.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, November 16). Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in “When They See Us” Film. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, November 16). Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in “When They See Us” Film.

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