The Way We Get By: Delroy Lindo is Finding Hope Through Volunteering, Protesting and the Young Generation

The legendary actor, who stars in Spike Lee’s timely new film Da 5 Bloods, reflects on how he’s processing the current moment.

Right now, one of the most important things for me is that I maintain perspective. What that involves for me is the recognition and acknowledgement that my own personal circumstances are much better than many, many other people. The other thing that has helped me very much recently is that I’ve been volunteering at a food bank. Immediately, when people come in, you get some sense of them – you see how they are dressed, you see their physical comportment. And that’s an immediate gut check for me, as I’m sitting there handing out this food. It is extremely helpful and, frankly, affirming for me, just as a human being on this planet. So I’m trying to do what a lot of people are doing, which is to take a half a step back, and to acknowledge and appreciate what I have. Because when I do that, not only do I feel that I’m contributing in some small, even minuscule way, but I just immediately feel more human.

With regard to something I can recommend to people, there’s a little film that’s on Netflix now called Da 5 Bloods, and I would advise people to go watch that! With all joking aside, I hope that people do watch the film, because it functions as a historical corrective, as a cultural corrective, inasmuch as it features these five Black Vietnam veterans, and I believe it presents these men as human beings. What I hope is that people watch the film with an enhanced understanding and appreciation for a certain aspect of Black manhood, but also to correct the fact that the experience of the Black Vietnam vet has really not been told, up to this point. Here’s a film in which you’re seeing that experience through the lens of these Black men and their lives.

Delroy Lindo (center) on the set of Da 5 Bloods with director Spike Lee (left) and actors Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors and Norm Lewis. (Photo by David Lee / Netflix)

I think about these different things I’ve discussed as a continuum. There’s a connection between volunteering wherever one can, and having one’s Humanity affirmed in so doing; what I believe is a very Human portrayal of the characters in Da 5 Bloods; and the recognition of the Humanity and the value of Black Lives that so many folks have been demonstrating for.

Last week, I attended a demonstration and a march with my 18-year-old son and some of my son’s friends. The demonstration was organized by two 19-year-olds; young men who are friends of my son that I have known since they were all in middle school. It gives me a measure of hope that the rejection of the status quo that is happening in this country, and all over the world, is being spearheaded by young people. It’s not only young people – there’s a broad age range, for sure – but it’s majorly encouraging that young people are as involved as they are. And this is not just Black people, it’s a diverse demographic of young people that I hope will contribute to some kind of systemic and lasting change.

Observing the actions my son and his friends are taking, observing the actions that young people and people of all ages both in this country and across our globe are taking, is also an affirmation of our humanity. The fact that’s central to anybody who is a human being is the awareness that we all deserve to be treated with dignity. And central to that rejection of the status quo is the fact that people are marching and working and protesting for their dignity.

Image of Delroy Lindo by George Ligon; protest image by David Geitgey Sierralupe.

Delroy Lindo can now be seen in Spike Lee’s new film Da 5 Bloods. Lindo has had memorable roles in films such as The Cider House Rules and Heist, and previously garnered critical acclaim in a trio of films with director Lee: Clockers, Crooklyn and Malcolm X. Other notable films include Wondrous Oblivion, Ransom, Get Shorty, Romeo Must Die, This Christmas (also as executive producer), and Pixar’s Up! On TV, he currently appears as Adrian Boseman in CBS’ The Good Fight (sequel to The Good Wife) and won an NAACP Award for a guest appearance on Law and Order: SVU. Also for TV, he produced and directed documentary interview films featuring Spike Lee, Charles Burnett and Joan Chen. On Broadway, Lindo received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations playing Herald Loomis in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and played Walter Lee in the Kennedy Center and Los Angeles productions of A Raisin in the Sun (Helen Hayes Award Nomination and NAACP Image Award, Best Actor). Lindo directed the plays Blue Door and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone to critical acclaim at Berkeley Repertory Theater, and won a Los Angeles Theater Weekly Award directing the play Medal of Honor Rag. (Photo by George Ligon.)