“In about 70 minutes, Freida Lee Mock manufactures a critical piece of cinema playing Anita Hill. Two decades later we revisit the events that made Anita Hill a household name. The movie is calls to action for women and minorities of all ages to take charge of who they are and what it is they want to do with their lives. It shows how Senate confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas profoundly inspired others, one woman’s courage to do the right thing opened minds and doors in ways those that never had a voice never could have imagined.
This is the first time Hill has spoken in any sort of depth about the hearings, about what they meant to her and the effect they ended up having on her life. She’s very forward and uncensored about it all, not downplaying a single part of her abuse, yet maintaining a level of grace and elegance that defied the eyes she received from 14 white men who knew nothing of what it meant to be a person of color or a female in this society. While her testimony didn’t end up doing anything to prevent Thomas’ ascension to the Supreme Court, it did substantially set the precedent for how people think about gender and equality in the workplace, in which we are still seeing the results today.It’s easy to forget how vicious and sarcastic those Clarence Thomas hearings were, making a mockery of sexual harassment. What Hill was asked, the way she was treated, nothing seemed possible. How could Senators allow something like this to take place? Were they truly this clueless? Was their bubble of race and gender so small it never occurred to them the outrage that would occur when they let Thomas off the hook and treated Hill as if she were going out of her way to lie for attention?
In today’s world, when Republicans hold debates about women’s reproductive rights and invite mostly white males to speak on the subject, thanks to the internet, social media and Cable News the resulting feedback was virtually instantaneous. When Hill took the witness stand to speak out about what had happened to her the resulting storm of outrage was mild. It was unbelievable that a smart, driven, Ivy League educated and highly successful African American woman, could have this happen to them.
At the same time, Mock refuses to see things as what they appear to be, asking Hill a series of tough questions that speak far more about her courage than beating around the bush ever could have. She also showcases how this woman’s bravery has inspired the “Me Too” movement over the past 20 years, her willingness to stand up and speak the truth even though those in power would have rather she remained silent pretty much says it all. This movie lives up to the standard set forth by its purpose, being a vicious claim of independence, equality and freedom today as the story of Hill and her testimony in 1991 against Clarence Thomas.”
Back in 1991, all we had was CNN, the network news and the papers. The realm that the infamous ran was a real one of photographers and reporters. Nowadays, in addition to that, there’s a virtual realm that’s far more devastating and volatile. All I can think about is how Hill’s case would have made a difference if it was able to be exposed to social media like many of today’s cases similar in the sense people of power taking advantage of women or minorities like Larry Nassar, Bill Crosby, and Harvey Weinstein? Would Thomas still be on the Supreme Court? Today’s media would thoroughly destroy both ends of the argument.”