As of today, 170,000 Americans have died as a result of complications with COVID-19. Back in May, the CDC attributed 100,000 black deaths to the virus. Who knows what the number is now.

Surely, there have been a lot of black funerals in 2020. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the many we have lost in the black community in particular, Vimeo, the video streaming site, made the film ‘Homegoings’ available for free streaming.

Curiosity got the best of me so I clicked the link and gave it a shot. Here’s my take on it.

‘Homegoings,’ an award winning hour long documentary, is as real as it gets in capturing the Black American experience of death and funerals. This beautifully done film speaks to nearly every element of the black funeral by following a Harlem funeral director through his daily activities and oral history of 40-years in the business. 

If you’re black, you’ll likely appreciate the truthful and honest portrayal of how we do death and funerals. If you’re not black or have never experienced the black funeral, you will be plopped right into a cultural realm of authenticity. It touches on everything from cremations to horse and buggies; casket selection to hair color selection; prearrangements to ancestral rites.

This movie is the perfect example of why black people must be willing to tell their own stories because only a black crew could create something as raw and comprehensive as this documentary on the black funeral.

You can’t help but to adore and admire the funeral director featured in this film as he can easily be substituted with a Hunt-Irving, Foster/Rawls, Laws, or Congo – current and former long standing black funeral directors around here. As one lady says in the movie, “To be an undertaker, you must first be a caretaker.”

I had to steal this phrase from the movie’s description on Vimeo because real journalists have such a way with words…

“Exquisitely tender. . . one of those rare opportunities to go toward the thing we fear most—death—and realize how much joy and comfort there is in it, when handled with grace and care. Thoughtful and enlightening.” — The Washington Post

Homegoings (Free Streaming) from Christine Turner on Vimeo.