‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Puts The Mass Incarceration Issue On The Big Screen

I have looked through a glass at someone I love. I know what it’s like to have to learn the prison system inside and out, to give of my time, heart and resources, and to say “I am with you.” Just like Tish in the film If Beale Street Could Talk, I am one of the 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 2 black women, in the U.S. who has an incarcerated loved one.

In Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed and award-winning adaptation of James Baldwin’s book, we witness the raw, beautifully poignant and genuine love between two people, Tish and Fonny, as they navigate the racist systems and societal realities of 1970s Harlem. Their future and dreams are suddenly put on hold when Fonny is falsely accused and imprisoned for rape. Looking at him through a glass, Tish joyfully reveals she is pregnant with their child, and promises she “will get him out of there.” ‘She’ takes the form of Tish, her mom and sister as they battle through a legal system that continues to fail them, struggle to come up with financial resources, and prepare for the imminent arrival of an addition to their family.