“Big change is a slow turning wheel”
The “Red, white and blue” addition to Steve McQueen’s Small Axe miniseries, hits a nerve on a world that’s reeling from racial discrimination. It depicts the true story Leroy Logan (John Boyega) a member of an immigrant household, whom after seeing his father assaulted by police officers, gives up his work as a forensic scientist to become a police officer because, “don’t you think its time things were different?”
The story grows and develops as Leroy Logan applies for the position and immediately attracts disapproval from his father and later on most of the black community. However, the importance of him becoming the only black officer in his town is duly recognized by his wife and mother even though he faces a tough road ahead. After having completed his police training with flying colors and registered into his local force, the difference between training and the real world sorely comes to life. Most of the black community, regardless of him wanting to help, view him as a traitor and call him a coconut or Judas. An example is a scene were Logan walks into a cell room and sees officers inflicting excessive force on a black man, after having a word with the officers Logan goes to check up on the man who vehemently cusses him out as a traitor from behind the cell door.
He also has to face the reality of an unfair system after his father was attacked by officers and when he wanted his promised “day in court” the police withdrew its case and the family was forced to settle for a draw.
The complexity of his relationship with his father and the black community is portrayed through an argument with his father were Leroy states that he raised them (him and his siblings) to be educated and “more British than the British” but when he becomes a police officer all he receives is scorn. It seems in his father’s eyes its one thing to be like them and another to become them. However, this difference in views is for a moment dissolved when Logan in dismay at his efforts to change racism from the inside, sits in a moment of introspection which is then connected to a moment of introspection his father has after being told his case will be settled to a draw, whilst these are men with different views McQueen shows the single most important similarity -they are black men victim to systematic racism.
Within the force Logan is also seen as an outcast. A scene comes to mind when Logan finds that dirty n*** has been written across his locker which incites a moment of rage. The racist taunts and jibes are one thing but when he is not backed up in a dangerous situation on the field it seems to hit home, they do not accept him. Rejected a promotion and alone after the only other officer he relates to, an Asian man quits Logan is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He questions his decisions in confidence to his wife. Near the end of the film you may find yourself asking, why does he keep going back? Why take the abuse from both sides and try change a system that refuses change?
“Sometimes I think the earth needs to be scorched, replanted, so that something good will come of it,” is the answer that greets you in the final scene.
The situation cast upon Logan in real life is immense and the portrayal of him by John Boyega is applaudable. The portrayal of steadfast resolve during training and police work, the outbursts of anger and emotion in racial adversity and the solitude he shows as an outcast on both sides, John Boyega shows all of this with intensity and passion. Credit also given to the script-writers, film crew and the rest of the cast to achieve the honest true story that is Red, White and Blue.