Review by The People’s Minister of Information JR
When people think of the men who are veterans of the Black Panther Party, they definitely have not been conditioned by the movies and/or the way history is commonly taught to think of a man who has lived the life of Michael McCarty.
“Belonging in the USA: The Story of Michael D. McCarty” is a documentary about a man who has lived an epic drama-filled life and still came out with his Cheshire cat smile, humor and love of life intact.
It is the story of a Black man who fought on the side of the people, right alongside one of the most legendary leaders to organize and make Panther rhetoric practical, and Michael lived to be able to talk about it.
“I got a job at the post office. My plan was to go back to school. That’s when the FBI came and wanted me to be an informer. They told me, either you work for us or you won’t work. And they proceeded to destroy my life,” says Michael McCarty in the documentary about his life.
“I get a document a couple months later about how many guns I owned, how many rounds of ammunition I bought, conversations I had with people in bookstores about revolution and what have you. (The FBI) was all up in my beeswax.
“They do psychological profiles. They went to my neighborhood and interviewed the parents of my friends about me. They play on your insecurities, your idiosyncracies and what have you. They had a woman start calling my wife like she’s my girlfriend. That’s going to create fiction.
“They started calling. Things flared up between us. We were at war with each other and split up.”
The FBI’s Counterintelligence Program is something horrific that many of us in later generations have read or heard about. Michael McCarty is a veteran from that particular war that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI waged on Black revolutionaries and progressive minds in the U.S. in the ‘60s.
Besides McCarty’s days connected directly to the Black revolutionary struggle, in “Belonging,” Michael courageously talks about many of his life altering setbacks and the changing of his perspective through it all. He also explored other interests he had besides politics to actualize into his true self so that he could look in the mirror and be happy with the reflection staring back.
“Belonging in the USA: The Michael McCarty Story” is a beautifully told, honest portrayal of a fallible man who was able to pick himself up, dust himself off and reinvent himself. This is a documentary that is a must see in 2019. It screens at JHC, 1330 Fillmore, at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 15.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportTV on YouTube. The 2019 San Francisco Black Film Festival runs June 13-16; learn more at SFBFF.org.