This is by far one of the best movies I have seen in awhile. Not only was the acting quite good but I have a secret crush on the Marnie character (from Girls) who plays Rose-the non racist white chick who lures handsome black men into her plantation-like home. Red flags yet?
Spoiler Alert….if you have not seen this movie, I kinda ruined it for you in the first paragraph. Sorta….but not really.
This movie is dripping in privilege but not necessarily from the “look how cool and good and white we are” side of things, but more so from the “look how far we have come” mentality.
The thought that we have come “far” is in itself a kind of privilege. Because it begs the question of “who” has come far?
Have we really come as far as we would like to think? This movie describes to the viewers/audience how in reality, we really have not come that far.
Because appropriation is one more way to keep the minority down, the white man in the lead, and the “in-between” barely making it.
So let me break it down for you a bit.
As I watched the movie, I was absolutely drawn in by the nuances of racism that I as a black woman experience daily. I experience it from family, friends and even coworkers.
I as a black woman also took note of the demographics of the theater in which I was seated while watching the movie. It was easy to see and count the number of white people because….well, dark theater, …white people. Ya’ll kinda stand out. The only time really that ya’ll stand out and interestingly enough, it didn’t seem to bother you one bit.
Because again, many of you feel you belong in any and every space.
But I couldn’t really see my brothers and sisters…unless of course we open our eyes super wide or smile. Yes…our pearly white teeth, so beautiful, so clean….so perfect! Because we have something that many white people envy. Skin,-so soft and flawless, ageless-black don’t crack! Some of us do crack, but we don’t crack. We are truly a gift from above. All of us. Every single last one of us. We, as a team, built many of the countries we long to visit today. We, together, created a system that many white people envy, and instead of working alongside us, you had to become the superior, the better. The more intelligent.
Something the minority race never ever got credit for back then, and strangely enough rarely get credit for now.
“Wow, you are so well spoken, so articulate”…..white people—THAT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT. It is not a compliment because you would NEVER say that to a person of your own caliber. Because black people, we were of a lower caliber and to many, including the police then and now, we are still at the bottom.
But in fact, it was our intelligence that allowed us to free ourselves from the French rule in Haiti. Did you know we created our own language to revolt in 1804. Yes….we created our OWN language. The slave owners, what did they fear? They feared our strength and envied our physical appearance. Impregnated us out of control and power, and also out of the desire to have a child who could possess a bit of what we have.
See, I believe that secretly, you wanted to be us. Part of us at least. If you could produce a child who could bare our lighter (still black though) complexion, and still keep us from learning how to read, you would and could essentially have it all. You have the brains, we have the looks. And so appropriation began.
Appropriation continued and one of the ways to appropriate was to rape us and our mothers and our grandmothers. So that we as a people could produce something that you wanted. We would essentially, after enough time become mini yous. Mini versions of hate and greed, and lust, and aspects of Satan.
But again, our intelligence prevailed. Because we as a minority group are indeed the majority in all the world.
As the main character begins to realize the many faults of the white people, he is awakened to a new kind of revolution. The one like the Civil War-a battle that had nothing to do with being polite. A revolution like in Haiti in 1804. A revolution that took the supreme court to decide whether black people could be counted as more than just property.
And in this movie…they were. In this world, we are. Let’s talk about a couple ways in which we are property.
When Rosie and Chris arrive at the plantation (a very comfortable white people home), they are both greeted in a very friendly manner. Immediately Rosie’s parents begin to size Chris up. They begin to ask questions and toss out phrases that are very typical for white people to say in order for us black people to think that they are really “on” our side. They explore Chris’ brain. But Chris is intelligent enough and responds in short one-liners. Understanding that white people just do that. They were raised in a way to not see color and yet to hold themselves (as a white society) at a higher level than everyone else.
He is felt up, his eyes are checked, his intelligence is “tested”, and his strength is measured.
Chris saw this and stayed quiet. A couple times he tried to speak his truth and was essentially shut down by his girlfriend. Several times he spoke with his buddy over the phone but was hoping that what his buddy was saying was not the truth because…#notallwhitepeople are like this. And yet EVERYTHING about his experience was proving to be more and more dangerous by the minute.
Rosie/Marnie from Girls plays the innocent white woman who loves to date everyone and she is not racist. But let’s take a second to think about this. How can one in good conscience bring home (to an all white family) a person of color for the “first” time. This should have been a red flag for Chris but he gives her the benefit of the doubt. By knowing who her family is, and what they may or may not say to him because of his color, she is complicit…even if she does not use racist slurs.
The police scene is epic white savior situation because she “stands up” for her boyfriend who is black. Chris knows the drill. He knows what the protocol is. He has spent his entire life being black and being treated as such, and then his white girlfriend decides she is going to show him that she gets it and that “equality” belongs to everyone. The police back down, not because they have to, but because they see what she is doing. The police gives Chris a kind of “false hope” that because he is with a white girl, he is safe. And yet Chris is aware at the back of his mind that had he NOT been with a white person, he would be cooked.
The premise of the entire movie is appropriation because this particular family wants the good and not the bad. They know what parts of black people are “good” but they don’t want the other part. They don’t want to talk about the struggle. They don’t want to talk about how black men are being shot on the road by police. They don’t want to talk about how people of color are being treated in stores, at malls, in movie theaters. They don’t want to hear about the suffering, the pain, the angst, the fear, the confusion. They don’t want the bad, not because they don’t want to know….but because they are afraid of how it will make them feel and how their guilt can possibly make them more angry instead of mobilizing to fight for injustice….which is the entire system.
The movie premise is actually the modern day. It IS today. I have white friends who want to touch my hair. They want to feel my skin. They are amazed that one day my hair can be short as my bitten finger nails and the very next day be as long as I want it to be. They want to hear me sing, watch me dance, and are amazed that I have several degrees. They want to ask me questions about race-assuming I speak for everyone of my hue-as if I represent everyone who has ever been oppressed. They want so much from me but what do I get in return?
White people absolutely exhaust me. They exhaust me because they see me as some kind of object. Some kind of virtual ATM where they insert a question and I am supposed to spit out an answer.
The movie is a perfect example of being seen as an object. They….you….want us. We have something to give to you, but what do we get in return?
We lose our souls.
Because it is not enough to not be just non racist.
If you want to really make a difference, you need to be anti-racism.
And this does not mean being colorblind.
It does not mean appropriating people, cultures and things (there is a short scene where the father gives Chris a tour of the house).
It does not mean pretending to understand oppression…
It does not mean doing peaceful protests.
It does not mean wearing pussies on your head (though that would actually be very funny!)
It does not mean wearing a pin.
It does not mean being ok with getting credit for something someone else did/invented/created A LONG TIME AGO.
It means walking beside us-not in front, not behind, and be ok with us walking one step ahead of you whenever necessary.
Being ok with not knowing it all.
Being ok with not being THE BEST.
Being ok with not being the smartest.
Being ok with giving us our dignity back….
And keep in mind that our intelligence was, is and always will be our strongest and most beautiful quality.
And you can’t take that from us because like at the end of the movie (spoiler alert), you will be left behind, and we will rise!