Did the title kind of shock you? Good. 🙂 Carry on…
Browsing through facebook this morning, I saw a link for a vintage movie about HBCUs contributions to war. This lead to a pretty good blog post called “Negro Colleges in War Time” by our fellow Hamptonian Brian McClure. (Sidenote: LOVE LOVE LOVE his blog) Brain takes the time to note that we often over look minor details in the big picture. For example, we rarely hear about all of the men and women from various HBCUs that have contributed to the war efforts. If you watch the video below, you will notice that each school contributed something different but each contribution was a necessity to fighting and winning the war. Who says HBCUs are irrelevant?
This is not what this post is about. Reading Brian’s post made me think about the excitement that we have for movies about our history. Yes, I will be in the theaters January 20, 2012 to watch “Red Tails”. Yes, I will have a lot to say about it and yes, I will wear some Hampton paraphernalia while watching the film. Why? Because my culture, history, HBCU and generational struggle are all important to me.
However, I have noticed that most of the movies that tell our stories tend to “sugar coat” or “glaze” over the true racial and societal climate in the story line. For example, even though the recently released movie “The Help” is a good movie, in my mind it still didn’t capture the struggle that Black families living during that time suffered. I hope “Red Tails” doesn’t do the same thing, even though I know it will. Maybe Hollywood feels that by painting a historically accurate picture, the movie wont sell. I don’t know. Why do we tend to let this happen? Are we dropping the ball? Growing up I remember my mother forcing vegetables down my throat even though it was far from any food that I wanted to eat. Why don’t we do the same when it comes to historical movies? Why don’t we force the truth down the throats of our community the way “Rosewood” did in ’97? Don’t you remember how mad you were after watching that film? I personally want to see a movie that is so graphic, so gruesome, so real (with out the “great white savior role) that it will outrage our community to the point of change. Sure, we have made some progress in certain areas, but I can easily argue that we haven’t progressed as much as we tend to think we have with education being my main point. But that is for another post or another graduate paper somewhere…. Meh.
My mind is all over the place, but I guess my point is this: Our history in this country was never sugar-coated or handed to us on a silver platter. Sure, we have made the best of it and excelled in areas that many thought we would fail. Of course we know that we actually built this country on our backs and helped to advance it with our brains. If we know all of the aforementioned to be true, then why can’t we get Hollywood to show it more? Where are the Black directors and screenwriters that are writing more than movies with a man playing an angry/depressed/beat-down woman? Where is the audience that wants to watch more than “entertaining” movies? Why haven’t demanded more factual and accurate depictions of who we are, what we have contributed and why we are important. Of course this doesn’t apply to all movie genres but if you are going to make a historical movie, don’t feed me sweets even if I ask. Give me those vegetables because I need proper nourishment to grow.
Oh yea, and please spare me the “I go to movies to be entertained, not to be depressed” line because that is a poor excuse for not being informed. We are so quick to learn and investigate someone else’s history before we put the same effort into our own.