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© New York Times, Jan 06, 2020

The most jarring image that crossed my screen last week, was of a man holding a confederate flag inside the United States Capitol Hill building. While everything I saw this day left me with PTSD, this image sent a chill down my spine. It sent a clear message that the forces Abraham Lincoln fought all those years ago to keep the union from breaking - were alive and well and felt emboldened to rear their ugly head, to be heard and seen as starkly as possible.

What we witnessed on Jan 6th, 2021, was in the making for many years. The signs were always present, flourishing on the internet and right wing media, and I and others have been writing and warning about it, since America elected the most unsuitable candidate to the highest office in the land. …


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The Triboro Bridge was thick with traffic. In the distance the Manhattan skyline was sparkling. The spire on the Empire State building was red and green. Things seemed like they are supposed to, this time of the year.

Then to my right a driver pulled in with a mask on. He made sure I didn’t forget that things were far from the way they used to be.

The adjustment we have had to make to a virus, has forced us to take stock of who we are as a species and how we live with the planet.

Now with a vaccine, there is hope of a reset to the past as soon as possible, which is already celebrated as a distant blissful memory. …


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Abraham Lincoln

Today we meet for Thanksgiving across the United States of America.

There is nothing more American than this annual family gathering that takes place in living rooms and then dining rooms across this land.

Weeks before this day of feasting, recipes are shared on cooking shows and in magazines and between neighbors and friends and the art of baking the perfect moist Turkey, becomes the subject of many a conversation.

In a seasonally early supper, Turkey meat is carved and consumed in copious amounts and the Trypotphan mixed with alcohol puts everyone in the mood for some drowsy family time, which at times gets complicated and revealing. …


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Fort Greene, Brooklyn © AK 2020

At 11:47 am on Saturday, November the 7th, I was clearing leaves in my front yard. It was an unusually warm day. I began to hear isolated howls and screams coming from down the street. My neighbor stepped on to his front porch with a frying pan and spoon and started banging and my wife came out running, jumping for joy.

It was over. The excruciating fives days had come to an end — for now. The knot in my stomach reseeded. …


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Clinton Hill, Brooklyn © AK, 2020

Walking through my neighborhood in Brooklyn, I came upon this Halloween decoration. While I was taking this photo a black man walked by me and said

“Huh!! Vote to end this nightmare! I thought reparations would end this nightmare.”

For a moment I found what he said amusing. He did not wait to engage but kept walking.

What he said certainly raised questions, especially in the times we find ourselves in, and more so, at a juncture where America’s future hangs in the balance.

“Reparation” means to make amend for a wrong that was done. …


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Still from the film A Hidden Life, Director Terrence Malick

“Don’t they know evil when they see it? We are used to it now. Crime. No shame.”

This is a line spoken by an actor in the exquisitely poetic and heart wrenching film A Hidden Life, written and directed by the cinematic genius Terrence Malick.

The film is based on true events that took place in a small mountain hamlet in the early 1940s in Austria.

It is a love story between a husband and his wife, as they respond to a changing political climate that shatters peace and beauty in their idyllic village.

The husband is called upon to join the Nazi army to show his patriotism to the fatherland. While in basic training he realizes the evil that is being perpetrated in the name of nationalism and love of country. …


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In February of this year, I was on a plane returning from India. In transit at the Dubai airport, I found myself caroled into a packed hallway, waiting to pass through security. I was literally breathing down the next person’s neck and the fear that crossed my mind was that of a stampede.

Chatter of a deadly virus spreading across China was in the air. Mild anxiety was palpable. Some people had masks on, most did not. I for one thought those wearing masks were overreacting.

In March, life as we knew it came to a grinding halt. The city I call home became the epicenter. People in me neighborhood were dying and the constant din of ambulances became a reminder of the carnage ensuing. High anxiety evaporated everyone from the streets. A pandemic had taken hold changing the city that never sleeps - forever. …


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Seven months into a year ravaged by a pandemic, the future seems as uncertain as ever. Everyone is pinning their hopes on a vaccine as a miracle return to the “way it was”. A way back to the days of packed stadiums, award shows, movie theaters, parties, bars, planes and trains without a care.

Many in the US, the nation with the highest global death toll, are in denial, and the virus continues to find hosts unhindered. If the present trend continues, about 200,000 people are expected to succumb by the end of the year.

Even though hospitals and medical professionals have become better at managing outcomes, people continue to die. And the daily ticker climbs new heights. …


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Barclays Center, Brooklyn, June 2, 2020 ©AK

Many moons ago on an intersection in Brooklyn, I was pulled over by a traffic cop. He was white. He was polite and we went through the drill — license, registration, insurance. He then let me go.

But before he did, he asked a harmless question.

“Is this car yours”?

I am a dark skinned person of Indian origin. I had been living long enough in America and in Brooklyn to have known, seen and experienced racism. As a documentary filmmaker I had worked on several films about America’s deep and abhorrent history since slavery.

When I arrived in the US in 1992, the barbaric flogging of Rodney King had gone “viral” shattering my mirage of America. …


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Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

My quarantine routine involves me taking my dog for a walk at 6:30 PM everyday. As we make our way through the picturesque tree lined brownstone neighborhood of Clinton Hill, we avoid people by crossing the street to make sure “social distance” is maintained.

At 7 PM sharp, the city sound erupts in loud cheer. …

About

Anand Kamalakar

Anand Kamalakar is a Brooklyn based documentary film director, producer and editor. His latest film SALAM can now be seen on Netflix.

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