I vividly recall hearing about the events in Charlottesville back in 2017.
That was the summer of the Unite the Right rally, where white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other various pieces of crap protested the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, among other things. Tensions escalated and it ultimately resulted in the murder of Heather Hayer, who was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. I was despondent over how atrocities like this could still take place in America (which was incredibly naive to say the least) and I wound up getting drunk and despaired over the state of our country. This followed a pattern that I established for myself whenever something this awful made headlines in the news: sympathy for the victims from afar, silent support for any movement protesting against racism, but no action taken by myself to try and help be a part of the solution.
Fast forward to today. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality against black people. These protests seem a little different than others from the past 10 years, as the public outcry has been more vocal and united to address the never-ending issue of systemic racism in the United States. I haven’t personally attended any of the protests. At first, I didn’t really know what the hell to do. Kevin and I weren’t even sure if we should keep posting on this blog, because white guys like us should just be listening and learning right now. Writing about films may be a passion of ours, but it pales in significance to what is happening in our country and what has been happening to black people since well before either of us were born.
However, I also don’t want to revert back into my cycle: outrage at the atrocity and sympathy for the victims, but only silent support from afar. I want to do better this time. And I think the first step towards that, in addition to being willing to listen and learn, is to admit that I’m part of the problem.
Allow me to repeat that: I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM.
I am not a racist, but my white privilege has afforded me the luxury of resuming my normal life after each one of these horrific events. What I didn’t understand before is that falling back into my usual cycle only perpetuates the problem and allows it to continue. To quote The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., “Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
The appalling silence of the good people.
This is not about my guilt or my own inaction. All I really want is to help. There is a problem and I can do more to try and make a difference. I’ll take steps in my own life to learn and educate myself more. And I won’t allow myself to forget this time and blindly retreat back into my comfortable life. But what does that mean for this blog?
What I’d like to do is use the platform that we have to try and elevate films from black directors, black screenwriters and black actors. Shine a spotlight on those who understand what it’s like to be treated differently because of the color of their skin. Sure, we’ll talk about some movies and documentaries that you’ve heard of, but even more important will be to focus on the ones that you haven’t. Those are the voices and the people that need to be heard right now. And it’s not about furthering our own self-interest or about any sort of monetary gain. Truthfully, we’ve never made money off of this blog anyway, but that’s not the point. The goal would be to try and help these stories find a bigger audience. Then it’s up to the rest of us to open our hearts and listen.
That doesn’t mean we’ll never write about other films again. I have no idea when we’ll get back to that, but that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that there is something terribly wrong with this country.
And we’re going to do what we can to help.