US film review(spoilers) by C.C. Saunders

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In its contemporary context, blackness assumes a violent coupling. Filmmaker Jordan Peele (Get Out) tackles this coupling in both a literal and figerative sense with his latest release Us. Peele depicts humans as “coupled” by a being who mirrors their exteriority. In challenging the presumed singularity of identity, the coupled being obscures reality, simultanously inciting the following query: Are humans replaceable?
Well, according to the film’s doppelgängers, who wear red jumpsuits accessorised by gold scissors, the answer is yes. Viewers meet Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) as a child who goes to a mirror house and encounters a girl who looks exactly like her. After this encounter, Adelaide is never the same, and later viewers learn that Adelaide is never the same because she and her doppelganger switched places on that faithful day. Though Adelaide’s parents noticed a difference in their child, this difference, viewers learn, with therapy, could be negotiated. In no time, Adelaide resumes the nurture of her parents and becomes the girl they raised.

The original, for lack of a better word, Adelaide grows up to lead an uprising where the different or the othered, kill their counterparts. Us features a battle between those who reside behind the mirror—at society’s peripheral, and those who look into the mirror and reside at the center. Peele never makes it clear who or what these beings are. The sole reference to identity the film gives is Red’s proclamation that they too are “Americans.”
Red (or Adelaide depending on your perception), to ensure that her initial plan remains in motion, eventually kills the girl whose place she took years. Her son is the only one who knows her secret, a connection she hints at with the early line “stick with me kid and I’ll keep you safe.” Here, Adelaide foreshadows the choice her son will eventually have towards the end of the movie, to share or remain silent. Red/Adelaine’s offspring is also coupled, as he encompasses both the center and the peripheral. Thus, the secret is a gateway to his understanding of self, a gift obscured from the realities of his sister and father.
The film as a whole exhibits a coupling distinct from what it delineates in part. Peele couples black actors with their American counterparts. Specifically, the media exhibits black bodies by way of representation, but the exhibited blackness remains superficial.

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For example, though Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong’o, who occupy the film’s lead roles, encompass a physical blackness in their melanin-dominant appearance, both play roles that could easily be played by white actors. Black actors in race-less roles, marks what the western world calls progress; however, this colorblind casting depicts the violent seizure of power from black people. Colorblind casting extracts black personhood from the black body. Specifically, colorblind roles attempt to circumvent the presumed problem of race. Race in this context also functions superficially; as color is a part, not the whole, of racism. Yet, Peele’s film attempts to showcase those often eliminated from lead roles because of their complexion in a role where their complexion is merely a coicidence. Us eliminates race in a world build on this falsified concept made real in the systemic disenfranchisement it continues to afford black people.
Thus, US makes “us,” or the black person, invisible by casting melanin dominate actors as coupled with an American identity that has never truly been theirs.
US and Social Reproduction of the Invisible [Wo]Man
Though I do not think it was intentional, Peele presents a diasporic discourse with Us. Particularly, the coupled identities that dominate the film illustrate the black individual as coupled by a collective identity. The envy dynamic present between Adeline and Red illustrates the envy many blacks within the diaspora have towards the black displaced in America, or what I will call the “invisible man.” The phrasing “invisible man” alludes to the Ellison novel where a nameless protagonist struggles to see himself in a world built on his invisibility. My use of “man” does not cite gender but references “human.” This invisible man remains largely invisible to his diasporic brethren who often view him or her as a “favored child” in the disillusion of black disruption. Us, in its depiction of black persons as the invisible man, depict the coupling of the black body and personhood as crippled by disallusion.

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By the film’s end, Adeline loses her life because her diasporic doppelganger (Red, who eventually becomes Adeline) wishes to be her; so, Red assumes Adeline’s space and takes her place. This is very much the reality for black people throughout America who have witnessed the perils of racism and prejudice, perils strategically aggravated by immigration. Buried by the fantasy that is American idealism, the invisible man remains invisible to many of their diasporic brethren who are often unable see to past this veiled reality. Instead, this invisible man becomes a hyper-site for a social reproduction that affords white hegemony its violent stagnancy.
In Us, Adeline encompasses the “invisible man” ideal that her counterpart seeks to socially reproduce. Red sees the space Adeline occupies as a bridge to a better life. She (Red) deems her position in American’s peripheral as inferior to the central placement of her doppelganger (Adeline). This notion is particularly complicated by Peele’s colorblind roles, where the black actor remains in the periphery despite seemingly central placement.
Nevertheless, I digress.
Red believes that she is more deserving of the space Adeline occupies and thus would occupy said space “better.” This is often the ideology many Africans in America face with our diasporic brethren who become “model minorities” in seeking to occupy the American space “better” than their kidnapped kinfolk. America, for the being of black form, is a site of physical and mental abduction perpetuated by the continued pressure to assimilate. This assimilation, despite its societal perception, does not mark achievement but cultural compromise. Thus, it is Red’s desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that drives her sadistic and physically violent attempt to take-over an exclusive space. It is this desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that makes the mentally enslaved black predisposed to attack those who look like them and not their true oppressors. As long as the oppressed see themselves as the enemy, the narrative remains focused on the oppressors. Thus, Red/Adeline and her diasporic counterpart cannot co-exist because then the narrative runs the risk of becoming “us,” and within this global paradigm of white supremacy, it must always be about “them.”

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Peele’s colorblind casting alludes to the Duboisian notion of double consciousness in his depiction of the black person is physically split into two selves. So while viewers physically see black actors, the main role remains reserved for white cultural hegemony. What I mean here is that viewers see black actors but are forced to engage with the white space these black actors wish to occupy rather than the black actors themselves. It is the desire for American-ness, or to exist beyond blackness, that makes Us’s viewing experience a visual engagement with the invisible man. Specifically, with “Us,” black viewers witness what will become of them if espoused to an American identity. The film functions as a visual illustration of the “black American” or “African-American” concept that the abducted Africans in America must detach from as a rudimentary step in our collective liberation.

Buried under the American fantasy and entombed by the fiction of progress, there is no “us.” This fact is perhaps best illustrated when Red kills another black women to aid in a white plight to assume a space.
It is Red’s desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that drives her sadistic and physically violent attempt to take-over an exclusive space. It is this desire to socially reproduce the invisible man that makes the mentally enslaved black predisposed to attack those who look like them and not their true oppressors. As long as the oppressed see themselves as the enemy, the narrative remains focused on the oppressors. Red/Adeline and her diasporic counterpart cannot co-exist because then the narrative runs the risk of becoming “us,” and within this global paradigm of white supremacy, it must always be about “them.”
The singularity Red seeks and attains ensures that there is no “us,” if there ever was an “us.” Her actions represents the inevitable end for a group who remains disrupted. As a product of a festered disruption, the black collective, in part remains what they made of “us.” The black representation seen on-screen and throughout politics, education, and every other field, is not us and has never been us. It’s them.
Conclusively, as evidenced by his latest film venture, Jordan Peele also fails to represent us; rather, he remains vested in “them.”

Keeping Black people on the Hamster wheel!!

Hamsterwheel...

Trojan Pam- Flirting with Racists

 

This is a short but great video by Trojan Pam(Pamela Harris).  Pam gives some very good advice about the dangers of flirting with racists in the workplace. She explains how black people should navigate in the workplace around white people.

Author Trojan Pam-Rest in Power(1953-2018)

 

I recently got some very sad news.  A fellow blogger I’ve followed for many years has made her transition.   Her name was Pamela Harris.  Although most in the blogosphere knew her best as Trojan Pam. She was not only a blogger but also an accomplished author.  And  brilliant one I might add. The first book I bought of her’s was Trojan Horse: Death of Dark Nation.  She went under the pen name Anon.  She later changed it to Umoja.  The book blew my mind!  Pam broke down the wicked nature of racism in America.  She was so intelligent and gave such insight into racism and how it operates. I had spoken to her many times on the COWS radio show. I would call into the host Gus T. Renegade and she was a frequent guest.  I loved the way she was not afraid to challenge white racists.  And she would do her best to wake up black people who were still confused about racism.  She truly was a woman without fear. This is from her obituary:

Pamela Evans Harris was born on Oct. 12, 1953 to Columbia natives Hattye Evans Harris and George B. Harris. She was the niece of Camille and Randolph Howell, Gladys and William Davis and counted many Columbians as a part of her extended family. Ms. Pamela E. Harris passed away in Chicago on Feb. 15, 2018 after a long career as an Electronic Technician, repairing mail processing equipment for the United States Postal Service until her retirement in 2017.

One of Pam’s greatest gifts was her writing: she wrote short stories and novels, and there is a strongly captivating wit and brilliance to her work. In her own words, Pam said “I needed to be gainfully employed, but in my heart I knew that I had to be a writer.

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I loved talking to her and exchanging ideas.  She had a brilliant mind.  I respect the fact that she wanted to educate her people in a world of anti-blackness.  She always spoke truth to power.  She had a deep love for her people. She was definitely BLACK and PROUD. She let that be known. I believe we lost a true warrior for justice and liberation.  I never met her yet I felt like I knew her so well.  We really did lose a dear friend.  She will not be forgotten.  I suggest you all go out and buy her books.  She was kind enough to send me autographed copies.  I really did appreciate that. I don’t think I ever told her I much I admired her. Now I wish I had. Her hard work will not be vain.  My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.  Thank you Pam.  Rest well my friend.

Bookstore

In memory candle background

In memory candle background

Las Vegas shooting last night: Worst ever?

Terrorist Attack...

There was a mass shooting last night in Las Vegas. The media says that a crazed madman went on a shooting spree at a country music concert.  The horrific incident happened near the Mandalay Bay casino. Reports are saying that there are 59 dead and over 500 people injured.  They say the shooter was a 64 year old white man.  And he was found later dead in his hotel room.  Police officials say he had at least twenty rifles and rounds of ammunition in his room.  Some say this is the worst massacre in US history.  Hmmmm….I beg to differ.  Of course we here at Kushite Kingdom know better than to fall for this propaganda.  The picture(above) shows that this Vegas shooting is NOT the worse. But those were black victims of racist whites.  So I guess their deaths don’t count.

Shootings..

 

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So while I do feel bad for any innocent people that were killed or hurt in Vegas….we must keep things in perspective.  There have been thousands of black people murdered in this country.  And most of it all the whites that killed them NEVER paid the price. Black lives don’t matter in Amerikkka.  That’s why most of these massacres are unknown to the public.  Then when a shooting like this happens or something like 9-11,then they want to say “this is the worst massacre ever”.  I assume they must mean shooting of white people.  But don’t let the media fool you.  This mass shooting is not the worst ever.

The Pro-Black Book Compendium

Onitaset Book...

The Pro-Black Compendium” is an activity guide for Africans who seek to develop their consciousness and the consciousness of their Brothers and Sisters. Within these pages are over 300 curated proverbs, quotations and poems from all over Africa and its diaspora, short biographies on many African authors, warriors and sages, and instructive descriptions of African wars, civilizations, books, films and pro-black business ideas.

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The compendium also has rewritten and exclusive content from its editor including the insightful “The Four Stages of African Consciousness,” a preview of the groundbreaking “Zuberi; and the Maroons of Maa,” a Pan-African Nationalist Curriculum template and Marcus Garvey’s secret epic poem “Tragedy of White Injustice.”

A must-have for Africans seeking self-knowledge and self-empowerment.

Onitaset Kumat is a very positive brother.  He has some great posts and a wealth of knowledge.  He put  a lot of time and effort into this book.  And he’s been a subscriber of my blog for over four years. So be sure to support him and purchase his book.  Ase’

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