Get Out- Interracial/Horror Film(Hidden truths)

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Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out proves a fascinating engagement with the racial truths of the contemporary world. The film centers on interracial couple Chris and Rose who are traveling to meet Rose’s parents in a New York City Suburb.

Prior to their visit, Chris asks Rose if she told her parents that he is black. Rose makes a mockery of this query, a query that encompasses the film’s many acts of foreshadow and dramatic irony. Get Out proceeds to illustrate that it is Chris’ blackness that makes him Rose’s prey. The couple’s visit to meet Rose’s parents proves a sick and calculated effort to abduct black bodies and re-appropriate them as a means to enhance the lives of a white counterpart. In short, the film’s resonance lies not in the images themselves but what lies beneath.

1.White Liberal

One of the most demonstrative illustrations in the film is its portrayal of the “white liberal.” Rose, Chris’s girlfriend not only dates a black man but defends him in the face of overt discrimination. Chris is racially profiled by a police officer on the way to meet Rose’s parents. The policeman asks Chris for his identification, to which they receive Rose’s wrath. After the incident, she states that she won’t let anyone “F%ck with her man.” But little does Chris know, Rose is merely protecting Chris the object and not Chris the person. This objectification becomes clear in the silent auction that takes place in Rose’s parent’s garden. What they disguise as “Bingo” is an auction where interested white buyers place bids for the black body Rose brings home. So questions like “Is it better?” referencing black male sexual performance, is the query of a prospective buyer desiring a worthy investment.

Rose portrays a physical embodiment to the phrase “every shut eye ain’t sleep and every goodbye ain’t gone.” An assumed ally can very well bear oppressive feelings towards a marginalized body. Assumed allies often veil self-interest in seemingly supportive gestures. Namely, Rose does not verbalize her prejudices yet is not any different or better than her parents or their “garden party” guests.

2. The Poisonous Apple

Get Out depicts Chris, a black man,  as an Eve-like figure and Rose, a white woman, as the poisonous apple that exploits his vulnerabilities and renders a series of irreversible consequences. The film intertwines physical hypnosis to induce black acquiescence to a  new identity. Rose acts as a form of hypnosis in her pursuit and pseudo-love for the black male. In seeking to consummate white acceptance and assimilation in his romantic relations with white women,  the black male body enters a vulnerable state exploited by his “prize.” Thus, Rose uses her external appeal to sink her thorns deep into the black male psyche. Just as their love seems to bloom, it is not Rose who dies, but her black lover–illustrating the measure of a rose’s beauty is the ability to distract admirers from its thorns sinking into their flesh.

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3. Science and black experimentation

The Armitage family abducts blacks, hypnotizes them, and uses the black body to improve white quality of life. The procedure leaves a small portion of the black brain but replaces the majority with a white brain. Thus, the black person becomes “a passenger” in his own body. This procedure seems synonymous to the abduction of African bodies and displacing them onto indigenous soil. This displacement renders the black body a passenger in the western experience as each generation proves more distant relationship to their African origins. While the African brain may not be physically extracted, it becomes westernized so that descendants of abducted Africans feel more American than African–making the black body a commuter in their own oppression.

Interestingly, upon first meeting, Chris and Rose disclose that they hit a deer on their way up. In response, Rose’s father remarks that they “did a service” by hitting and ultimately killing the deer. It is this same ideology that prompts the white conservative to seek out black bodies to dismember for their own personal benefit. In their minds, the Armitage family does a service to blacks abducted for their procedure, as their procedure affords the black body a purpose believed to not exist outside of serving whites. Prior to preparing Chris for the procedure, Mr. Armitage asks him “What is your purpose, Chris?” To pose this question prior to their intended procedure suggests that their use of his body incites a purpose otherwise non-existent.

It is this same ideology that prompted white doctors and scientists to use black bodies to test out medical procedures. Henrietta Lacks’ doctor felt entitled to the contents of her vagina, so much so that he did not even consult her next of kin prior to abducting her cells. The pearl-like substances that killed her would acquire purpose in the lives Lacks would come to save following her death. Thus, just as the Armitage family deems the black body purposeful in servicing whites,  Henrietta Lacks’ story similarly illustrates the black body as purposeful solely when appropriated for western motives.

Slavery and the contemporary world implement a similar ideology as the most celebrated black figures: athletes, entertainers, and actresses all serve whites. Thus, the television, radio and even the education system all act as an informal hypnosis implemented as a means to control black bodies and place them on a dead end path to white servitude.

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4. The unassumed intellect

Get Out channels Charles Chestnut’s “The Goophered Grapevine” and “Dave’s Neckliss” in illustrating the unassumed intellect in Chris’ TSA friend, Rod Williams. For those unfamiliar with Chestnut or these stories, a prevalent style of Chestnut is to implement a character who due to their vernacular speech prompts most to assume that he is intellectually deficient. The unassumed intellect uses these preconceived notions to his advantage and deceives his “intelligent” counterparts by the story’s conclusion.

Similarly, Williams provides comedic relief to audiences in his delivery. Yet the dramatic irony evokes laughter from some and frustration from others as audiences know that Williams is the sole party in the film that knows the truth. This depiction functions positively, as it evokes a caricatured black image as a means to exploit presumed western conceptualizing of black intellect. In a perfect world, caricatured imaging of blacks would disappear completely. However, it is an act of advancement to include stereotypes in a way that prompts contemplation, or that performs in a way to challenge western predilection for the compartmentalized black body.

The Final Verdict

The most resounding part of the film for me is when the black male body reappropriated as the Artimage grandfather, snaps out of his hypnosis and not only shoots Rose but shoots himself. This depiction illustrates black detachment from a controlled identity as a necessary component to disabling mental enslavement. Furthermore,  blacks not only have to rid themselves from physical obstacles but the part of ourselves that encompasses these harmful ideologies.

My least favorite component of the film was the means in which the hypnotized black body reverts back to semi-consciousness. Although the black body is held hostage by a white brain, it a flash or white light that snaps them back into consciousness. Thus, although it is a black man who physically saves himself from his pending imprisonment–it is a stroke of white light that enables his escape.

Thus, while seemingly a cautionary tale to interracial dating, or to the black body trusting whites in any capacity–the film evokes a white savior in representation rather than form. At surface level, the film seems to evoke the separatist ideology implemented by civil rights leaders like the late Malcolm X. However, the authorship of said movie makes this close reading impossible to take seriously. For this reason, Get Out reminds me a lot of Birth of Nation.

After viewing both Birth of a Nation and Get Out, I left the theater somewhat content. These feelings faded almost instantaneously as I realized that these movies while depicting the complexities of the historical and contemporary black experience can only resonate but so deeply. Namely, both Peele and Parker write and produce movies that should be revolutionary, but are not.

Jordan Peele and Nate Parker both conclude their films in the same manner. Specifically,   Birth of a Nation and Get Out end with all central white characters are murdered by blacks. While fatalities at the hands of blacks substantiate black bestiality, it also functions to depict white bodies as factors that must be eliminated to free blacks from an oppressive state. Like Birth of a Nation, Get Out is authored and directed by a black male married to a white woman. This dynamic casts said black authors as significantly less harmful and least likely to actually eliminate the white demographic because to do so would be to not only murder their wives but the mother of their children. Furthermore, with their interracial unions, the black male writer and director assumes a non-threatening stance in which the murder of fictive white characters seems an artistic choice rather than a means to uplift the black collective.

While the western world attaches a taboo labeling to interracial unions, these unions function favorably to foment white supremacy. The strongest black leaders are strong not because of what they say but because of what they do. Thus, these films are noteworthy, not revolutionary, as it is not enough to implement images that suggest an ideology disconnected from the thought and action of the author.

Writer and producer Jordan Peele also complicates the ability to take Get Out seriously with his comedic background. Thus, his depiction of a white family who abducts blacks and uses their bodies for their own benefit—becomes a well-executed joke rather than reflective of a past and present horror not limited to a New York City suburb.

Article by C.C. Saunders

 

2017 Women’s March: Black Female Perspective

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Following Trump’s inauguration a series of Women’s Marches occurred throughout North America. The protests erupted to preserve the female liberties seemingly threatened by a “conservative” president who boasted of sexually assaulting women. As a female, I empathize and even support the initiatives that foment this March. However, although a woman, I know that I am inevitably black first. Thus, I can’t help but feel that by supporting the women’s march is to support the very means of my oppression.

On my a tri-weekly journey to a previous job, I recall seeing a number of protestors outside of Planned Parenthood at the wee hours of the morning seeking to shame female patrons. One protestor stood out from the others—an elderly white man surely north of seventy-five. He stood hunched over, holding an oaktag with a message written in ballpoint pen. I did not bother to read the poster, but judging by the stoic expression on his face, he was there to cast the stones of white male privilege onto the female body. Standing at the intersectionality of race and gender, the black woman knows this gaze all to well. While the literal gaze casts itself onto the black female body countless places throughout North America, the figurative gaze consumes black femininity in its entirety. The women’s march solely speaks to the “woman” component of this gaze, eliminating the most defining characteristic of black female identity.

Reproductive rights in general proves controversial to  the black female trajectory. A quick glance at history reveals that the black female endured sheer deprivation in terms of reproductive rights—her body used as means for mayoral economic franchisement. White women too encompassed an existence that also regarded them as property, however their fair skin warranted privileges denied to the black female body. These exclusive liberties afforded to white women illustrate the concept of “woman” as a privilege solely applicable to non-male whites. Consider the phrasing “black” woman. The label “Black woman” illustrates that black female intersectionality separates black females from the term’s initial meaning. For any “woman” of another marginalized faction, their race or ethnicity always precedes the term woman—proving their genitals deem them female but their race and ethnicity is first and foremost. Femininity is also a privilege extended exclusively to non-male whites. This exclusivity persists as the black female body only earns femininity when adopting western aesthetics and behavior.

Given the exclusivity of the term “woman,” I find it quite disturbing that white women ( and other oppressed groups) call on the black women for support in their times of distress, yet alienate the black female body when their children, brothers and fathers lay slain on the streets or untagged in the morgue. How many white women “said her name” after Sandra Bland was murdered? How many white women were overtly outraged after the Trayvon Martin verdict was rendered?

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To take a trip down memory lane, how many white female feminists supported Tawana Brawley in her 1988 trial? If autonomy over the female body is right every woman deserves- why was their no feminist congregation when this young, black girl was sexually assaulted by a number of white men? The answer is simple.  Issues that engage both blackness and femininity become “black” issues instantaneously. This fact reveals that feminism is simply not built to encompass intersectional identities and thereby is not equipped to extinguish black female disenfranchisement.

It seems that former President Barack Obama’s victory disgruntled feminists, who supported this victory as long as it was a symbol of the feminist victory to follow.  It seems feminists felt that history would repeat itself. Namely, black male voting privilege preceded white female voting liberties.  Thus, feminists deemed Clinton’s victory inevitable following Obama’s 2008 victory. Dr. Angela Davis expressed a similar sentiment in the following excerpt from her book Women, Race and Class,

“The representative women of the nation have done their uttermost for the last thirty years to secure freedom for the negro; and as long as he was lowest in the scale of being, we were willing to press his claims, but now, as the celestial gate to civil rights is sIowly moving on its hinges, it becomes a serious question whether we had better stand aside and see ‘Sambo’ walk into the kingdom first.” (Davis 70)

Now that it seems that the black collective has something that the white female collective does not, the bells of white privilege right loudly under the veil of feminism.

Feminism functions to afford white women the same liberties as white men. The main component of these liberties is racism—deeming black female participation in any feminist activity injurious. Thus, to participate in a woman’s march as a black woman is to   march along to the stagnant beat of white supremacy. For the black woman is a queen, but to the western world she will never truly be  a woman.

Article written by C.C. Saunders

Much needed Restoration of the Black Family

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Anyone who has followed me for any significant amount of time is fully cognizant of the fact that I am immensely passionate about empowering my people, and though my passion for my people encompasses addressing all of the enigmatic issues that are currently plaguing our people, there are certain areas in which I have invested myself with the focus of empowering my people in these specific areas, which include the mis-education and exploitation of our youth, black group economics practiced vertically and the restoration of the black family nucleus. This article will focus on the importance of restoring the black family to a point of functionality.

The current reality surrounding the black collective in America emphatically answers the question posed by Eleanor Holmes in her article, “Restoring the Traditional Black Family:” What would society be like if the family found it difficult to perform its most basic functions? What Eleanor Holmes was addressing in her 1985 article was the challenges associated with a black family that was literally breaking down, primarily through self-destruction that was externally agitated by the subtle machinations initiated by the white power structure in a systematic manner.

During the time that this article was written, the divorce rate in America was hovering around 50 percent and the number of single parent households was on the rise. Here we are 30 years later and the situation has been exacerbated by a number of different factors, but the bottom line is that the black family is in crisis. Blacks lead the nation in divorce rates. Black men have the highest rate of marrying outside of our race. Only one in four black women will ever be married. This means that the number of single-parent households will only increase as more black women embrace the fallible paradigm that they don’t need a man.

While highlighting this fallibility of the erroneous paradigm, it is important to understand that the black woman did not arrive at this position of hostility and indifference toward the black man on her own. She had a significant amount of help. It began with white slave masters who purposely turned her against her mate by ravaging her in front of him, revealing his inability to protect or provide for her. This ushered in contempt and distrust. Even 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation advised the black woman that she was free, the system was telling her that she had a new oppressor, the black man. She was offered solace in corporate America and refuge in social programs offered by the Government, such as welfare, AFDC, Section 8 housing and more. She could experience this pseudo-liberation and independence, but she would have to dismiss the man. This was not that hard to do with the already strained history between the black man and the black woman.

To exacerbate the matter, black men were losing jobs at an alarming rate as jobs were being shipped overseas, so black women saw very little value in his presence at the time.

Now, the black man was not without culpability in the breakdown of the black family nucleus, for many black men found it to be an acceptable course of action to procreate and then abandon their progeny. They assumed it to be appropriate to superficially engage the heart and emotions of the black woman with no intention of committing to a long-term relationship.

Even when the black man and the black woman did enter into the institution of marriage, they often found that their selfish nature would not allow them to invest in the marriage in lieu of self-preservation.

This ever-widening gulf between the black man and the black woman is about far more than lifelong companionship, for the black family is the institution through which the power of life is passed on to the subsequent generation. The black family is that secure environment in which our children are to be nurtured into a healthy understanding and awareness of “self.” It is where they develop their self-image and their sense of self-worth. Without a wholesome family environment, our children lack balance, and they suffer emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. They lack the capacity to effectively go out and compete.

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Another alarming issue among blacks is that the birthrate has dropped dramatically, and this is important because the birthrate is indicative of the group’s ability to sustain its current representation among the general population.

It is important to point out that many of the struggles of the black family, such as divorce, single parent households and more, are actually an exaggerated microcosm of the larger struggle to hold together the family nucleus in America. No group, including whites, has been able to escape the cultural assault on the traditional family; however, due to specific issues that are unique to the black collective, the disintegration of the family has had a much more emphasized toll on blacks.

The lack of economic potency limits the mobility of any person or group, and it is substantially more difficult to overcome the economic hurdle standing alone, or attempting to split incomes between homes.

One factor that has served to exacerbate the issues that are plaguing the black family has been the unwillingness to admit that there is a problem. For many blacks, the destruction of the family is a powerful reminder of the nefarious attack of racism on the black family and the black experience in general. Instead of seeing the discussions about the black family as an opportunity to address the enigmatic issues that we are facing the possibility of healing long-standing wounds, many blacks view it as an insult and they fight vehemently against it.

The problem with the current state of the black family is that the consequences and repercussions associated with this reality, only seem to drive a wedge deeper between the black man and the black woman. A significant amount of the discussions surrounding the issue are nothing more than finger-pointing contests. There is no attempt to resolve the issues, only a desire to play the victim. Unfortunately, blacks have become perpetual victims, and playing the victim card is almost second nature. Owning our own mess is a little too uncomfortable for the vast majority of us. It is simply easier to blame others for our failures, than it is to admit that we played a significant role in the causation of our current predicament.

How do we begin the healing process? I believe it begins with men who understand the responsibility of leadership. We have no shortage of men who want to declare themselves to be leaders, kings and rulers, but very few understand the immense responsibility associated with these titles. As black men, we must be willing to love a woman free of the deadness of her contempt for us. We must be willing to brazen the minefield of her hostility in order to excavate and discard each and every mine, being prepared to engage her hostility with patience and honorable intent. We must see our women as our most valuable asset, and we must look to protect them from the destructive forces in this world that will leave them barren in their spiritual womb. We must nurture them with our love and protection, so that they can use their spiritual womb to house, incubate and birth our visions.

Our women, must be willing to allow the men to operate in their design, with opposition and hostility. They must be willing to trust the men to lead, provide and protect. It is important for our women to understand that respect and affirmation are a man’s greatest yearning, and they must become determined to not be the source of the black man’s destruction.

It is clear, without the restoration of the black family nucleus, without the apprehension of the knowledge that there can be no advancement of the black collective without the black family, we are ultimately doomed to continue our descent into the abyss of unbridled oppression and self-inflicted devastation. The healing has to start now.

Article by Dr Rick Wallace