Can we talk about how I went to see three movies so far this year and they were all about black people? Not only were they about black people but they were written and directed by black people and the “gag” is none of them was about slavery. You read it correctly. Not one of those movies were about slavery but after each one I left the theatre in a state of trance. I felt empowered, I felt confused, and I felt a little fire inside of me get inflamed. The three movies that I saw this year were “Hidden Figures” (the book was written by a black women but the movie was not written and directed by black people), “Fences,” and “Get Out” but this post will only review the things that I was reminded of while watching “Get Out.”
Although the history of African Americans, as it is taught in school, supposedly began during slavery and flourished after the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the infamous “I have a Dream” speech, our greatness have always peeked through. African Americans are one of the few cultures that do not have a cultural identity anchored in the true history of our ancestors. We are taught from a very young age that our ancestors were slaves and Africa is discussed like it is a country not one of the richest continents in the world. Not having any true ties to Africa, seems to put us in an awkward, insecure position, in which we are always in conflict with ourselves. Who are we as a people? What does it mean to be Black? Is ghetto synonymous with blackness? If we speak properly and date outside of our race are we coons? But as our history is taught, regardless of how incorrect or incomplete it is, what I have always heard in those stories is that black people are strong, innovative, and resilient and “Get Out” was an awesome reminder of this for me.
“Get Out” is described by many as a horror film about racism which is creative as fuck on the part of Jordan Peele. Seriously, as I was watching the movie I was truly scared for the outcome of the black actors in the film. I wasn’t scared because it was a horror movie, I was scared because I could relate to the fear that was depicted in the film in real life. I could relate to walking in a white neighborhood and being trailed by a car not knowing what type of interaction was going to come next. I could imagine trying to figure out, is it worth going to see a friend or just turning around to avoid being killed, harassed, or arrested just for being in the “wrong” neighborhood? I could relate to listening to white people tell stories that make me wonder if they are using metaphors to describe how they really feel about black people and wondering if I should just laugh to appear engaged or ask some pointed questions and appear angry. I could also relate to the feeling of being stopped by the police and not knowing if it will end in my arrest for “DWB” (driving while black). Furthermore, throughout this movie I was scared for the black actors because everyone knows that black people die first in every movie and they don’t tend to make it through the entire movie even if they are the lead actor. Scene after scene in this movie, brought up my fears but also showed how creative black people are in handling these situations that are steeped in racism. Jordan Peele, himself, displayed an amazing amount of creativity in being able to tell these stories and hopefully incite a little fear in everyone who saw it.
Throughout the movie, the lead actor, Daniel Kaluuya repeatedly found himself in awkward conversations with white people, in which they referred to his genetic makeup that led to his strength, his artistic abilities, and his intelligence. While the conversations could have been seen as people giving him compliments, the tone of the conversations were weird and judgmental. For him they were awkward but for me these conversations reminded me that it is our strength, intelligence, athleticism, and creativity that puts fear in white people. They envy us so much that they fear us. Instead of admiring us, they seem to want to steal our essence so that we can walk around being a shell of ourselves while they can flourish. This is evident in the absence of our history being taught in schools, our hairstyles being gloried only when seen on people such as Kim Kardashian, and our features only being acceptable when a white girl gets butt implants. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery but they leave out the part that when you don’t give credit to the originator that is considered plagiarism. The lingering impact of not only plagiarizing our blackness but additionally killing and demoralizing us to cover up that plagiarism, has on generations of our people is definitely not discussed.
“Get Out” reminded me that black people are so resilient. We can always find a way to get out of a situation. We can smile nicely even when we are burning with anger inside. We can use our creativity to make a living for ourselves and to get us through life or death scenarios. Most importantly, despite all of the hardships that we face, all of the negative stereotypes that are placed upon us, black people are still able to love deeply. We are able to love ourselves and we are able to love others despite their race, sexuality, and/or ignorance.