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Race and Gender: “Moonlight” Film and “Boy, Snow, Bird” Book Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Nov 15th, 2020

Race and gender have always been the two matters of significant concern for any society, regardless of the level of its development. Just like any other critical social issue, they are addressed in art – motion pictures, novels, paintings, and plays. It is commonly driven by the desire to draw society’s attention to the criticality of these matters. However, the main challenge is how race and gender impact one’s further life and predetermine an individual’s chances of happy and careless life, enjoying social justice and equity.

In some cases, accompanied by a person’s environment – family and community, – race and gender turn into the ground for a slow disaster. Therefore, the focus of the paper will be made on identifying examples pointing to relationships between gender and race and a slow disaster in one’s life. The main idea is to locate them in Moonlight, a movie, and Boy, Bird, Snow, a novel.

To begin with, it is essential to state that Moonlight is a 2016 motion picture, depicting the life of an African American boy – Chiron. The most outstanding thing about the movie is the choice to depict the protagonist in situations, occurring during three distinct stages of his life – childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. As a child from a poor family, Chiron lives in an unfavorable neighborhood. As a teen, he faces significant challenges with his sexuality.

As an adult man, he searches for the ways to become authentic. The movie is based on severely politicized and socially vital issues – race and gender. Being a black man is less challenging than being a black gay man. Therefore, being strongly politicized, Moonlight is a perfect movie for obtaining a better understanding of the relationships between race, gender, and one’s future life.

Still, regardless of the fact that the movie is the portrayal of the so-called black experience, it is paramount to note that the cast is all African-American. From this perspective, the role of race is diminished, as only some general aspects of the black experience are depicted. For instance, Chiron comes from a poor family living in a tough neighborhood. Later, as an adult man, he becomes involved in illegal activities – drug dealing – that is another common aspect of the black experience.

Other points of the influence of race on a person are complicated to determine due to showing no people of other races in the movie. Still, it is possible to conclude that race is a ground for social inequality because growing up in such a neighborhood without opportunities for decent education and working may be perceived as the manifestation of social inequality based on race.

On the other hand, gender is one of the aspects that are obvious throughout the story. In fact, the story is a bright manifestation of the difficulties sexual minorities face in life. From the early childhood, Chiron was trying to become aware of his sexual identity, and people around him refused to respect it. For instance, his mother wanted to avoid conversations about homosexualism. Later, as he grows up, he is shown as a vulnerable person, and this vulnerability results from the inability of the community to accept Chiron’s authenticity and the very fact that he is a black gay, so all those around him are ashamed of his company and disrespect his life choices. It is a slow disaster for Chiron.

More than that, there is a separate plot line that makes it evident that the beginning of one’s life, not only race and gender, predetermine person’s further life. Think of Chiron. At the very beginning of the story, as a child, he gets acquainted with Juan – a drug dealer. The man teaches the little boy what is a right way in life, and, unfortunately, for him, this way is drug dealing. In addition, it represents the influence of parents on the child’s future life. In the case of the movie, it is seen in Chiron’s complicated relationships with his mother, especially the very fact that she does not want to explain the meanings of some words – faggot – that later affects him.

On the other hand, there is a novel – Boy, Snow, Bird. It tells the story of a white girl, Boy, and her life. Boy’s father is abusive, and it motivates her to run away from home that makes up the beginning of her story. Eventually, she moves to Flax Hill where she meets Arturo – a father of her daughter – Bird. Here, it is essential to note that he has another daughter – Snow. As their story develops, there is an evident line of significant division between black Bird and white Snow. Because of it, the story is a compelling representation of the role of race in one’s life. To begin with, think of Bird. She is a black girl born in the family of whites.

Even though it is connected to the racial specificities of Arturo’s ancestors, the issue is critical for the family, especially keeping in mind that the second daughter, Snow, is white. Therefore, there is a line of constant bias and inequality when two kids are together, as Snow is always privileged. Later, Bird faces the challenge of inequality and bullying as she studies and makes effort to become a journalist.

Except for it, just like in the case of Moonlight, the story points to the significant influence of the beginning of one’s life on their future. Recall Boy’s childhood with an abusive father and the very fact that she runs away from home and hides her happiness from him. Moreover, think of the differences made between Snow and Bird that as well affect their lives that makes Bird tough and teaches her to oppose bullying.

Also, because of the jealousy Boy had for Snow, the two sisters are lost for each other, as Boy decides to separate them. In this case, Boy’s decision may have affected Bird’s life and happiness because having a supportive white sister may have made her life more comfortable and equitable. It is a slow disaster for Bird.

At the same time, there are some insignificant details pointing to the role of gender. For instance, recall the story of Boy’s mother. Being a lesbian feminist, she was raped because of her life choices and sexuality. Also, the very choice to name the protagonist Boy may point to the inability to accept a child’s sex and parents’ desire to change it – in this case, the desire of the abusive dad to have a son, not a daughter. That being said, regardless of the differences between protagonists of the stories, both of them point to the fact that race and gender predetermine who a person will become and how their life will develop.

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"Race and Gender: “Moonlight” Film and “Boy, Snow, Bird” Book." IvyPanda, 15 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/race-and-gender-moonlight-film-and-boy-snow-bird-book/.

1. IvyPanda. "Race and Gender: “Moonlight” Film and “Boy, Snow, Bird” Book." November 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/race-and-gender-moonlight-film-and-boy-snow-bird-book/.


IvyPanda. "Race and Gender: “Moonlight” Film and “Boy, Snow, Bird” Book." November 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/race-and-gender-moonlight-film-and-boy-snow-bird-book/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Race and Gender: “Moonlight” Film and “Boy, Snow, Bird” Book." November 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/race-and-gender-moonlight-film-and-boy-snow-bird-book/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Race and Gender: “Moonlight” Film and “Boy, Snow, Bird” Book'. 15 November.

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