White People LA Times,
I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I left the country the morning after Michael Brown was killed and only heard bits and pieces with my jet lagged mind over in Europe. I still haven’t got my head around what went on in Ferguson and continues to happen. And I’m back home now in Los Angeles observing a strange media era that resembles the seventies in a way with ethnically based TV shows like Goldbergs, Black-ish, and the upcoming The McCarthys touted on billboards all over town. Then I’m spending a lot of time in public elementary schools (part of a job that I don’t talk of much, but is becoming a larger, more impactful part of my life) observing a huge diversity of socioeconomic class and cultures, sometimes fretting over difficulties I see. But what got me this morning was catching up on the Sunday LA Times and reading this article on a film called, Dear White People, by filmmaker Justin Simien.
Here’s the passage that raised my hackles:
part of what has also set “Dear White People” apart is the distinctive diversity of influences behind it. Although Simien has been sure to acknowledge leading African American predecessors such as Spike Lee or John Singleton — he introduced an academy screening of Lee’s debut, “She’s Gotta Have It,” in Los Angeles over the summer — he has also made references to filmmakers Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman, Fritz Lang and a host of others.
The article goes on to talk about how African-American millennials aren’t just influenced by black culture:
“I think the difference in our generation, the sort of African American millennial, is we were not only influenced by black culture, we just weren’t,” said producer Lena Waithe…
First, it’s just insulting for the writer to posit that a people which encompasses 14% of the US population, rich as “its” cultural expression may be, would only be influenced by what was produced by that minority. Secondly, it’s sad that an artist would get seduced into such an oppositional statement as Ms. Waithe’s claim. (But I fully understand how something can come across as much more simple minded in an out of context quote.)
The affliction of racism gets into us all as it limits our thinking an tries to explain what’s always been there as new. Sorry for that rather generic statement.
White People, progress is not in applauding people or yourself for stepping out of a box that was imaginary in the first place.
I’m looking forward to seeing the film. And I hope it reflects a richness that the LA Times writer or editor failed to truly reflect.
(And hopefully now that my hackles have raised, more writing will come!)