A Platform for Good
In his new documentary, Tracy McGrady travels to Darfurian refugee camps in Chad and tries to do his part
by Adam Fleischer
“If I rhyme about home and got descriptive
I’d make 50 Cent look like Limp Bizkit”
-K’naan, “What’s Hardcore?”
Somali rapper/singer K’Naan penned these words about his east African homeland to try to give Westerners some perspective on not only his country, but also certain others that make up the world’s second-largest continent. Unlike with 50’s, there’s no glorification of the widespread violence in K’Naan’s home in his lyrics. Nope—coming from where villages are pillaged, women are raped, and machetes and machine guns are dividing limbs and families isn’t a badge of honor. It’s a problem that we should all become aware of.
In a new documentary, 3 Points: Peace, Protection, and Punishment, released online over the weekend and filmed in 2007, Tracy McGrady tries to simultaneously understand and shed light on the unfathomable conditions affecting those from the Darfur region of Sudan, the continent’s largest country, also located in east Africa.
Sitting in the westernmost part of the country, Darfur is has been ravaged by genocide which began in 2003 and continues to this day. Perpetrated by the country’s own government as well as militias known as the Janjaweed, the conflict had displaced 2.5 million Darfurians at the time of the film, 250,000 of whom had gone to refugee camps on the border of Chad. It is at these camps, which took some refugees ten days to walk to, where McGrady spends most of the film and where he and we learn these and other eye opening and heart wrenching facts.
Once he arrives in Chad, which borders Sudan to the west and thus lies directly next to Darfur, TMac is immediately taken back, saying he felt like he was in the movies. Just as quickly, though, he wants to lend a hand, asking what it will cost and then agreeing to build a soccer field over the dirt where two dozen or so kids are playing. Building a pool was next on his list, but he was told by the two human rights activists he was working with that talking to the refugees to find out their basic needs was most important. So that’s exactly what he did.
We see him speak with a woman whose family is only able to eat once a day, but still says that the most dire need in the community is a school. (Many throughout the film echoed the importance of education.) Another woman told the story of her village, where the men would be killed if they went to the bushes to get firewood, but the women would “just” be raped. “So we prefer to go and be raped,” she says, “than to have them be killed.”
There are stories of hope, too. TMac heads to art therapy where a handful of displaced and orphaned children are using drawing as a healing process—depicting bombings, shootings, and other atrocities which they have survived. Despite the horror they had withstood, they continued to dream. Some wanted to be teachers, another hoped to be a governor, and yet another aspired to become president.
McGrady and director Josh Rothstein (a friend of SLAM’s who has shot for us and will be part of much more extensive coverage of this movie in the coming weeks) do an excellent job of not making the film about the All-Star guard, instead using him as a teaching tool and showing him as many of us would be—vulnerable, at times scared, and wanting to learn more and find ways to help throughout.
In the time since his visit, McGrady founded the Darfur Dream Team to establish schools in refugee camps and connect the youths to students in the US. He will also be changing his number to 3 this season in honor of the film.
When he first arrived in Chad, McGrady was told by the driver of a cab he was in, “You could save thousands of lives just by coming here.” Here’s to hoping that we’re all inspired to do a little something—whether it’s a financial contribution, reading more, or telling a friend about the genocide—to help out.
You can watch the film in its entirety here.