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A New HBO Documentary Tells the Story of a Young Black Man Killed in Brooklyn 31 Years Ago. Activists Lament How Little Has Changed Since Then

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The tragic events depicted in the documentary Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn call to mind headlines from 2020: a black man is shot to death by a white mob, precipitating months of civic unrest and protest marches marked by anguish and determination.

But Yusuf Hawkins was shot 31 years ago, in 1989, in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn—and his death tipped a city already plagued by racial turmoil over the edge into violence once more. In his documentary, filmmaker Muta’Ali Muhammad includes scenes from that summer that resonate strongly in today’s climate: a mother’s grief; a politician’s deflection; a communal outpouring; counter-protesters’ racism, both veiled and blatant; clashes with police.

To some activists who were involved in these protests in 1989, the current protests show how far we have come as a nation; to others, the scene looks disappointingly similar. TIME talked to some of these activists for their take on the similarities and differences between movements three decades apart.

New York in the 1980s

Yusuf Hawkins, Amir Hawkins and Freddy Hawkins

Yusuf Hawkins, Amir Hawkins and Freddy Hawkins

Courtesy of Hawkins Family/HBO

The killing of Yusuf Hawkins in 1989 occurred during a tense moment in New York City history. The deaths of Willie Turks, in 1982, and Michael Griffith, in 1986, two Black men who were killed by white mobs, had shocked New Yorkers who might have thought their city was a liberal bastion of integration. That summer, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing had called attention to senseless violence enacted against Black communities, especially in Brooklyn.

In August 1989, the Black 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins traveled from his home in East New York to Bensonhurst, then a largely Italian-American neighborhood, with three friends to look into buying a used car on sale. At the time the group traveled to the area, a large mob of white men had gathered in Bensonhurst with plans to attack a group of African Americans, one of whom was rumored to be dating a white girl they knew. Hawkins and his friends walked into the mob without knowing they were waiting for a Black person to attack. Hawkins’ friends who were with him at the time of the attack recall in the movie that several white men surrounded them, with some carrying baseball bats. Amid the chaos, Hawkins was fatally shot by someone in the group, and the perpetrators dispersed quietly into their neighborhood.

Hawkins’ family, along with the Rev. Al Sharpton, decided to organize protests in Bensonhurst, which were buoyed by groups like the New York City Civil Rights Coalition, and garnered hundreds of supporters. But they were also met with racist vitriol that might have appeared out of step with a progressive image of New York. “We got all these nasty remarks, people holding watermelons, throwing soda,” Amir Hawkins, Yusuf’s younger brother who marched with Sharpton, tells TIME. “I was 14 at the time. We were walking into a danger zone. We were not just locking arms because of unity but just to keep close in case something went wrong.”

Norman Siegel, a white civil rights lawyer who joined protesters marching to demand justice for Hawkins, says that the counter protesters were more dangerous than those he had encountered in the South. “People calling me an N-word lover, throwing objects at us, including eggs,” he says. “Marches in the South, we didn’t have that heckling.” Rev. Sharpton was even stabbed by an angry onlooker and spent several weeks in the hospital recuperating.

Deeply rooted prejudices

Mural dedicated to Yusuf Hawkins in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Mural dedicated to Yusuf Hawkins in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Courtesy of Hawkins Family/HBO

When Siegel decided to talk to students in the Bensonhurst community following the killing to interrogate their responses to the protests, he found that their prejudices were deeply rooted. He, along with the Black lawyer Galen Kirkland, began holding classes in the New Utrecht High School—which Joseph Fama, the gunman convicted of killing Hawkins, attended—and found that directly addressing stereotypes allowed students to see how racial tensions form. In particular, Siegel says, they established an open and honest dialogue with students designated as “At Risk”—largely working-class teens who planned to drop out of high school at age 16—by giving them a space to speak about race, connecting racism to broader issues like sexism, homophobia and classism, and dismantling stereotypes. Kirkland’s role surprised the students, Siegel says.

“Galen would always wear a suit; the white students would come to me and say, ‘Mr. Siegel, I never saw a Black guy like Mr. Kirkland,” he says.

Kirkland and Siegel held classes at New Utrecht for 11 years, discussing civil rights history, the origins of stereotyping and peaceful protest strategies with the students. “When you’re establishing a level of trust, it’s gotta be a sustained dynamic,” Kirkland says. “You can’t show up a couple times then disappear. And eventually, it was really inspiring: it affirmed the idea that there were lots of decent people in our city who wanted to make positive change.”

‘We should have learned from the past’

Yusuf Hawkins with his mother Diane Hawkins

Yusuf Hawkins with his mother Diane Hawkins

Courtesy of HBO

But the great time and effort Kirkland put into reducing prejudice makes him feel even more pained to see the continued violence and discrimination against Black people that has thrust the nation into a new era of protest. “Having worked so hard for so many years, to see where we are today is heartbreaking,” he says. “It’s clear that the change in rhetoric, policies and postures from the very top has exacerbated divisions and made many people feel that what they were doing in terms of attacking other people or asserting hateful positions was being condoned.”

Meanwhile, Siegel points to the widespread segregation that still exists in New York City, both in neighborhood lines and its public school system, which is one the most segregated in the country. “It’s 31 years later and could what happened to Yusuf Hawkins happen tonight in Bensonhurst? Yes,” Siegel says. “Even though we should have learned from the past, the dynamics are very similar. People don’t want you in their neighborhood because you’re different.”

Amir Hawkins hopes the film provides an important history lesson for those who might not be aware of the racist violence his family dealt with in Bensonhurst, particularly younger people watching and taking part in the current wave of protests.

“When they see the film, it’s going to allow them to see that we were dealing with this 31 years ago,” he says. “This is not just something that’s new. Stuff like this has been around.”

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact

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Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie. 

Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo. 

But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way. 

The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake. 

The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.

Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either. 

Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price. 

Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity. 

Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well. 

Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

Liu Yifei made no outright apology. 

Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas. 

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5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!

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American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations. 

Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.

Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming. 

  1. 1994

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes

Year of release: 2019

1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre. 

Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.

  1. Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Genre: Drama

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2020

Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.

This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride. 

  1. Wild Wild Country

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2018

The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!

  1. Lenox Hill

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes

Year of release: 2020

For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.

Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.

This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.

  1. Borderline

Genre: Comedy

Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes

Year of release: 2016

The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.

The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!

Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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