Director – Spike Lee
Writer – Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
Starring – John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
Rating – R
Genre – Biography, Comedy, Crime
Metascore – 82/100
Rotten Tomatoes – 76%
BlacKkKlansman is one of several high caliber movies coming out over the last few years that are pointed towards the African American experience. In a positive light, this could be a sign that the black narrative is now able to be told and portrayed in a more genuine voice. And in an even more positive light, that the overall public is at least ready to be entertained in a more truthful way. BlacKkKlansmen tells the true story of an African American cop named Ron Stallworth, working alongside his white colleagues to try and infiltrate the KKK. This film is thrilling and thoughtful and not only does justice to this story, but leaves a profound impression.
Spike Lee did an excellent job of showing varying white and black perspectives in the 1970’s America. For instance, Ron’s direct boss (white) did whatever he could to support his investigation into the KKK. Whereas, one of Ron’s coworkers who was also white, was outwardly racist, and abuses his power to oppress black people in his city. The same goes for the black community. Ron had very different opinions on how to fight racism and prejudices than his girlfriend, Priscilla (black), who desired to arm herself in preparation for a race war. They both longed for the same goal, they both wanted their heritage and culture to be celebrated, to be treated as equals, but they fought for those goals in opposing ways. This is a profound picture of the complex issue of race in our culture. There isn’t just one white side and one black side. There are thousands of individuals negatively affected on a personal level by racism every day.
Felix, the antagonist Klansman, was by far the most extreme. He showed the epitome of what a Klansman is and the reality of his disposition is horrific. Felix is ridiculous, his beliefs are preposterous and his personality, volatile. Felix’s actions are motivated by his belief system. A system that promotes the idea that not all life is inherently human. The narrative that white America tells is that there is safety in segregation, that for whatever reason, the white race is superior to all other races. Even though he is seen as “ridiculous, outlandish, over the top” he was bred, grown and raised to subconsciously hold on to those views, he just wasn’t as subtle as most. He is the byproduct of systemic racism. The blaring truth is that the story was told the same to Felix, as it was to the majority of US culture.
No matter race or culture, your experience is not the only experience. Movies such as this, call for white Americans, to educate themselves and to find the rest of the narrative of our history and our present. Passivity due to ignorance or a lack of knowledge is not an excuse and is no longer acceptable. There are stories being told, listen.
Author: Callie Ingram