By Lucas Sharma SJ
Last night’s Academy Awards ended with quite the controversy when La La Land was mistakenly awarded Best Picture. As the cast and crew stood on stage receiving their award, a backstage announcer emerged sparking looks of confusion. A moment later, Moonlight was named the actual award recipient for Best Picture of the Year.
Moonlight’s protagonist is Chiron, a young African American boy who grows up in an underprivileged neighborhood in Miami. As a kid, he realizes something is different about him. The film documents his process of coming to understand his emergent sexuality, and his journey down a path he would not have expected for himself. The issues of gender, class, race, and sexuality intersect poignantly throughout this beautifully crafted film.
While the film has caused people around the world to discuss its depth and power, Moonlight provides a special opportunity for Jesuit colleges and universities to ask powerful questions about our own students:
How does gender, race, class, and sexuality intersect in our students? How does this impact academic, social, and co-curricular success? How do we offer true cura personalis to all students?
How do we understand the psychological trauma our students from underprivileged backgrounds experience? How do we support them as they adjust into an institution with most students likely came from a more privileged background?
How do we decrease micro-aggressions these students might experience and foster authentic friendships with privileged peers?
What do difficult, honest conversations look like? How are they different between students, faculty, and staff? In the dorms, classrooms, student life offices, co-curricular activities, and administration?
In the spirit of this current issue and Moonlight’s Best Picture win, what ways might we continue to engage in these much needed difficult conversations?
The cover picture features actors Trevante Rhodes, Alex R. Hibbert, and Shariff Earp who played Chiron in Moonlight. The photo is featured courtesy of Disney ABC Television Group of the Flickr Creative Commons.