Hands Up – Zinhle’s Academic Presentation

Zinhle Screens Hands Up for PAF
February 24, 2016

In honor of Black History Month, first-year PAF Zinhle Essamuah presented her documentary “Hands Up” during our weekly meeting on Tuesday, February 16th. Her documentary provided a first-hand account of the aftermath in both Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland following the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown and the death of Freddie Gray. Featuring interviews with both protesters and leaders of various ages, the film emphasized the power and importance of grassroots activism and coalition building.



Mainstream media conveyed Ferguson as a place rampant with violence and looting. However, the footage presented in this documentary illustrated that those behaviors were not common, but rather, the protesters were non-violent and compliant with police orders. One of the most powerful scenes, for me, featured the story of Clifton Kinnie, an eighteen-year-old activist who, despite his ailing parents and experiencing the tumultuous aftermath of Mike Brown’s death, saw hope for his community in the collective efforts of youth engaged in the protests.

During the discussion following the film, Zinhle pointed out that the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” originated from three LGBTQ African American women in response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the 2011 Trayvon Martin case, and she posed the question of why do we hear more about the deaths of black men than the deaths of black women.

All in all, the #BlackLivesMatter is a leader-full movement that does not encourage violent protests or violence against police, but rather emphasizes the need for national attention and focus on the value of black lives. Overall, Zinhle’s documentary and the subsequent conversation was helped us as PAF’s understand the power we possess as individuals, and as part of a collective, to create change within our communities.

“If we give up, what’s the purpose of fighting anyways?”

For more information about the documentary, visit HandsUpDocumentary.comOr check out Zinhle's PAF Blog post about about her documentary.


Marcus Andrews

PAF Class of 2017
AA ’13
BA '15
MPH '17