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4 powerful moments in 'Moonlight' that illustrate why it won Best Drama at the Golden Globes.

"At some point, you’ve got to decide for yourself who you’re going to be."

4 powerful moments in 'Moonlight' that illustrate why it won Best Drama at the Golden Globes.

On Jan. 8, 2017, "Moonlight" won Best Motion Picture — Drama at the Golden Globe Awards.

The film follows the life of Chiron, an African-American boy born into poverty in Southern Florida, as he wrestles with his sexual identity, dangerous bullies at school, and growing up with an abusive, drug-addicted mom.

Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24.


Shedding a light on the powerful forces of race, class, homophobia, and addiction, "Moonlight" offers the type of unique perspective that doesn't just tug at heartstrings and win awards — it challenges us to think critically about important issues, too.

Here are four powerful moments in “Moonlight” that illustrate just how important the film really is:

1. You see the gut-wrenching realities of bullying among kids who are, or who are perceived to be, LGBTQ.

In the film, young Chiron (played by Alex R. Hibbert) is forced to hide in an abandoned building after being chased down by boys slinging homophobic slurs.

Later in the film, the bullies are more successful. When teenaged Chiron (played by Ashton Sanders) is in high school, he's brutally beaten up by someone he believed to be a friend. That gut-wrenching scene ends in bloodshed.

Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24.

Bullying is a problem for many, especially LGBTQ youth, who are 91% more likely than their heterosexual peers to be bullied, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015.

Seeing bullying play out on the big screen brings that statistic to life.

2. You see how the power of addiction can rip apart families and destroy childhoods.

At one point, teenage Chiron is assaulted by his mother (Naomie Harris), who begs him for cash in order to feed her drug addiction.

Courtesy of A24.

It's a gripping scene that shows how addiction can transform even the most doting parent into a physical and emotional abuser. It also reflects an America grappling with its own addiction crises with opioids and heroin.  

3. You see the complexity in people and why even the "bad guys" can turn out to be the heroes.

In the film, Chiron befriends prominent Miami drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali), who ends up feeding him, housing him, and accepting him for who he is — regardless of Chiron's sexual orientation.

Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24.

While Juan's work in the drug industry has inarguably caused harm — you can see its direct effect on Chiron's own mother — you also see how Juan's compassion saves Chiron, helping him survive his tumultuous childhood.

"At some point, you’ve got to decide for yourself who you’re going to be," Juan says in a pivotal moment on screen. "You can’t let nobody make that decision for you."

4. You see Chiron kiss a boy, Kevin (Jharrel Jerome), on the beach...

Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24.

...and then come back to his hometown as an adult (played by Trevante Rhodes) years later to find Kevin (André Holland) once again.

Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24.

It's still too rare to see same-sex love on screen — especially LGBTQ love scenes between young men of color.

Media representation matters. And to thousands of boys and men watching the complicated, contentious, and beautiful scenes between Chiron and Kevin, "Moonlight" has made a difference.

Stories like Chiron's matter. And it's not every day that films like "Moonlight" get the Hollywood recognition they deserve.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of "Moonlight" — not only on their Golden Globe win, but for creating a piece of art that will stay in the hearts and minds of many for years to come.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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