I knew when I saw the trailer for Spike Lee's newest film, "BlackKkKlansman," months ago that it was a must see. All of Spike's films are a must see. This film is about a black police officer that successfully infiltrates the KKK.
I decided that I was going to take my amazing black activist wife on a date to watch it. We went to the evening showing at The Vista Theater in Silverlake. We walked into the theater and scanned the room for seats. It is packed so we moseyed to the front. I looked around and saw many white faces, which was expected seeing as we were in Silverlake. Feeling real petty, I turn to my wife and say, "they should give priority seating to black folks" to which they laughed and agreed.
We finally found two empty seats pretty close to the screen, sat down and began eating our snacks. The movie trailers began followed by the movie. For 2 hours and 15 minutes, I sat in that theater and went through a roller coaster of emotions. I was deeply triggered. Actually, I don't think the word triggered is equivalent to what I was feeling.
The film takes place in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On a personal note, my mother is from Colorado. When I was in middle school, my mother moved us (my brother and myself) to Walsenburg, Colorado and we lived there for almost four years. During those four years, I experienced more racism than I ever have in my 36 years of life. I remember being harassed by police, treated with constant prejudice by grown ass people, teased by my peers, and called a "nigger" by my own relatives. I can recall a group of us being chased by an older cousin in his truck while we ran for our lives! My 13 year old brain justified his actions and thought he was just playing around because he was drunk. Thinking back on that now, as a grown women, there was ALOT more to it than that.
When I reflect on my formative teenage years, it affirms many feelings I have today about racism. As someone who is Black, Mexican, and Navajo... my mixed heritage has taught me so much about the struggles within my intersectional communities. The majority of the population in Walsenburg, Colorado is Mexican. My relatives that live there are Mexican. Thus, the racism I encountered was from people who are Mexican. There is so much hostility between black and brown folks that deeply pains me and it is something I will never understand. In the film, they discuss how white supremacy affects everyone that is NOT white. In my opinion, the only way we'll be able to destroy it is if all marginalized communities worked together, which I think we are starting to do, but we can do so much more.
The "BlacKkKlansman" features actors playing KKK members that far too resemble actual people that live in Colorado. Sorry not sorry, but they just look like racists. In my opinion, one of the film's most poignant scenes was the speech given by Harry Belafonte (an iconic black actor, singer, and activist) to the Black Student Union. He tells the story of how a young black boy was brutally murdered. Oh how the tears fell and my heart ached when he spoke. What hurts the most is the fact that murders of black and brown people this is still going on. The film's controversial ending shows actual news footage of the hate and violence that white supremacists still inflict upon black and brown folks in America today. The killings of black men, women, and children are a daily occurrence. Nothing has changed. Instead of angry mobs of white folks chanting "kill the nigger", we have cell phone cameras being used to document the killings the police are doing.
When the film ended, my wife and I quickly left the theater. We were fearful of seeing the friends we saw when we were walking into the theater, and that they would want to process or ask us questions. We needed to process our emotions and the film with each other! There was a split second, when I was talking with my wife when I felt hopeless. I let myself fully feel my sadness. And then I got angry!
The "BlacKkKlansman" is an incredible film! It does everything a well made film should do: it makes you think. While the subject matter is not an easy one to take on, Spike does an incredible job telling a story. Personally, I'm just really glad this was made by a black man. Because as a black person, living in America, if you can't learn to laugh and make fun of the most fucked up situations, you're going to have a very difficult time living.
Whether you are black, brown, white, or whatever label you use to identify yourself... Go see this film. While it may be hard to watch at times, it's pretty fucking great.