Everything You Need To Know About 'Us'

A Semi Spoiler-Free Review, As Told By A Black Woman

Culture & Entertainment

I have to admit, by the time Get Out was released in theatres, I had already done so much reading about it, that not much about the movie surprised me. As clever, interesting, and necessary as Jordan Peele's first film was, I was somewhat underwhelmed, and I'd like to think that was because the internet had practically revealed the entire storyline before I could even see the film. With this knowledge in mind, I made it a point to see Us in theaters opening weekend so that I develop my own opinion before the masses had the opportunity to thwart my perspective. In conclusion, that opinion is: give Lupita all the awards, damn it!

It was recently announced that Jordan's new film did more than $70 million in the box office, making history as the largest debut of an original horror film in theaters...ever. The record-breaking film is yet another reminder to Hollywood that it's time to start putting some respeck on black narratives. Lupita and her co-stars offered a brilliant performance that will make you realize that most times, you really and truly are your own worst enemy.


What I could appreciate the most about Us was the relatability of The Wilson Family. The main character, Adelaide (played by Lupita Nyong'o), offers a new genre of superhero that we've never seen in film before: a mom desperate to protect her family.

I won't spoil it for you, but you can definitely look forward to a few corny dad jokes, bickering siblings, and some teenage attitude, which are all pretty typical of any family. Although the Wilsons are a quintessential "American" family, there were few nods to the culture in the film that were downright black AF. From Adelaide's husband, Gabe (played by Winston Duke) rocking a Howard sweatshirt, to the ultimate fight scene happening to the tune of an orchestrated version of "I Got 5 On It," Jordan Peele made sure to sprinkle a whole lot of melanin magic into the mix of this creepy horror-themed thriller.


Although I searched (and I mean searched) the film for any metaphors that symbolized racial disparity or injustice, Us tells a much different story. Unlike Get Out, Jordan's new film looks at societal privilege in a different light and has a message that makes us all reflect on our perspective as Americans.

Although I've seen mixed reviews on social media since the movie was released, I can personally say that the film is definitely a bop as well as a major win for the culture. Although, I will say, when the movie ended I couldn't help but think, "WTF just happened?" So I took to the internet to help understand some of the film's key messages that I may have missed, and boy, were there a lot.

For those of us who have seen it, and even for the ones who haven't but want to know what the hype is all about at the risk of peeping a few spoilers, these were a few of my takeaways.

*Disclaimer: Major spoilers ahead!*

Duality & Jeremiah 11:11


The idea of duality is a consistent theme throughout the film. Along with the creepy white man at the beginning and the end of the film, the numbers can also be seen on top of the ambulance in the closing scene, and it is also 11:11 P.M. when the Wilsons are attacked in their home by the tethered. The scripture, Jeremiah 11:11, which is seen many times in the film says this:

"Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them."

In Jeremiah, it is prophesized that sinners who worshipped false idols would be faced with inevitable doom, or "evil" and this can be perceived a few different ways. While some say that Red believes that this scripture is a word from God to lead the Tethered from doom, others have different theories.

Jordan Looked To The King Of Pop For Inspiration


The "real" Adelaide was kidnapped and sentenced to life underground by her ominous double in the '80s, a time when Michael Jackson was wildly popular. Jordan, who called Michael the "king of duality", drew from the late superstar for a much of his inspiration for the film. For example, the "Thriller" t-shirt Adelaide wears at the beginning of the movie shows Micheal's influence on the young girl before she was kidnapped. Red uses his style to design the Tethered's eerie uniforms, complete with a one-hand glove and red jumpsuits, much like MJ's attire in "Thriller". Peele told Mashable:

"Michael Jackson is probably the patron saint of duality. The movie starts in the '80s — the duality with which I experienced him [Jackson] in that time was both as the guy that presented this outward positivity, but also the 'Thriller' video which scared me to death."

Hands Across America


As a true 90's baby, I had no earthly idea what Hands Across America was. After doing some research, although the event was mildly unsuccessful, the '80s nonprofit fundraising effort was dedicated to raising money for the homeless. When Red is left underground with the Tethered, she is left with her Hands Across America shirt, which ultimately inspires masterful her plan.

But, Who Was The Real Villian Tho?


I loved this movie because it made me question myself. The lead character, which I had been rooting for the entire time, was actually the villain. Now ain't that some sh*t? Us is a film that makes you analyze your own perspective and be honest about your findings. When you take a hard look at how the story played out, Red was never the bad guy after all. As major of a mindf*ck as this is, if we started to approach our real lives with this mentality, the world just might be a better place.

Jordan Peele and his cast of badasses told a story that in a way is bigger than racism or sexism. He told an all-American story about the perils of classism, and that may be a harder concept to grasp than anything else.

This film helps us realize that many people we may classify as other, like the homeless, impoverished, and socially unacceptable are really exactly like Us.

Featured image by Universal.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

"Black men, we're in constant warfare. Every day is a fight outside of my house, so why would I want to come home to more fighting when that is the very place where I should be resting? There are loved ones who I don't speak to as much anymore because they aren't peaceful people. A huge part of the reason why I am happier without my ex is she was rarely a source of peace. The older I get, the more I realize that peace really is the foundation of everything; especially relationships, because how can I nurture anything if I'm in a constant state of influx and chaos? Guys don't care how fine a woman is or how great the sex may be if she's not peaceful because there is nothing more valuable than peace. If the closest person to me is not a source of it, that can ultimately play a role in all kinds of disruption and destruction. No man wants that."

Keep reading... Show less

This article is in partnership with Staples.

As a Black woman slaying in business, you're more than likely focused on the bottom line: Serving your customers and making sure the bag doesn't stop coming in. Well, there's obviously more to running a business than just making boss moves, but as the CEO or founder, you might not have the time, energy, or resources to fill in the blanks.

Keep reading... Show less

When Ngozi Opara Sea started Heatfree Hair almost a decade ago, curly and kinky extensions weren't the norm on the market as they seem to be today, especially if you wanted those textures in quality human hair. Beauty supply stores mainly sold synthetic curly hair, and there was a surge of renewal for women who were just beginning to embrace natural styles, taking to YouTube to experiment with new techniques and styles.

Keep reading... Show less

No one is excited about paying taxes, but for the most part, they're unavoidable for the working woman. Yet, not everyone has to pay quarterly taxes. You may have to get acquainted with quarterly taxes depending on how you earn money and who signs your paychecks. Not only is it essential to know if you should pay quarterly tax payments, but you need to know what your tax liability is and the deadline to submit your taxes — unless you want the IRS visiting.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts