(And Black Racist Directors)
I thought I had exhausted what needed to be written about racism now being more from the African American community than the white community. This week, several things came together that taught me more needs to be addressed. For instance, a friend in a nursing home was talking of dealing with aides who sat around doing as little as possible to earn their paychecks, but having energy to demonstrate racist attitudes.
Then, the director of the recently released movie, Selma, a biopic about Martin Luther King, was interviewed by the press. She told them that she had not expected an Oscar nomination for her part in the movie so was not disappointed. When asked about the furor that she caused by portraying President Lyndon Johnson as a racist akin to Governor George Wallace of Alabama, she expressed denial that he had had any part in the success of the Civil Rights movement. She angrily expressed that they hadn't had any white savior to help them with their cause -- in fact, they didn't need any knight on a white horse. She said they could do this all by themselves.
Sorry President Johnson, I guess you and the Kennedy clan and Congress were irrelevant to the passing of the Civil Rights Bill that changed the lives of blacks in this country forever. Those black folk just did the whole thing themselves.
Well Ms. Ava DuVernay, lend me your attention, because you are about to get the education you should have gotten before you were ever allowed to direct a movie about history. To direct a movie about history, or write one, or produce one, you have to first know history. You don't. I've never been a fan of President Lyndon B. Johnson, but I'm not so ignorant that I don't know that he was the key factor in the passing of that Civil Rights Bill. The Kennedy family, especially President John F. Kennedy, had worked throughout the years he was in office to get the bill passed, but they didn't have sufficient knowledge about how to work the two houses of the branch to get it done. In fact, other presidents had failed at getting changes made for your cause. Then Vice-President Johnson is said to have notified President Kennedy that he should hold back on introducing the Civil Rights Bill until after the rest of his agenda had been passed because the Rights Bill would hang everything up. Well that President ignored the advice and, lo and behold, everything in his agenda was hung up because of the civil rights issues.
When President Johnson was sworn in after the assassination of President Kennedy, he made the decision to see that the Kennedy agenda made it through Congress. President Johnson had spent years learning the ins and outs of that branch of government and knew how to make things happen. If he had not put his shoulder behind the Civil Rights Bill, there is a good chance it would never have come into being. You would not have the advantages you have today if it were not for the sympathetic support of these two presidents, a handful of Congressmen, key entertainers and regular people you and your kind are treating so badly today.
You see, as you seem to have forgotten, there were no black presidents and few black congressmen back then. With no black majority in Congress, the Civil Rights Bill would not have been just difficult to get passed, it would have been dead in the water. So no, lady, you could not do it yourselves. You had to have help.
Yes, key people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were effective in calling attention to injustices, but those same injustices would still be prevalent were it not for Caucasian Americans who cared. So get your nose out of the air before you drown in your own self love.
I know that arrogance is said to come from a poor self concept, but that doesn't make your inflated opinion correct or even easier to deal with in the here and now. If you plan to direct any more historical biopics, you need to read up on the history of the time -- all of the history -- not just the part that tends to reinforce your overinflated egotistical opinions about the matter. In fact, to learn more about President Johnson, you might behoove yourself to read The Passage of Power by Robert Caro. That book was an eye opener for a lot of people.
I haven't seen your film yet, so I can't say for sure, but your lack of knowledge and denial of the truth may just be the reason you failed to get the Best Director Oscar nomination. I'm sure you'll probably nurse more racist grudges and tell yourself that you didn't get it because you are black and a woman to boot. But take the blinders off lady.
There are a lot of us still alive that actually lived through those days. I actually stood outside a restaurant on the outskirts of Selma, Alabama, in 1965. I saw the three outhouses labeled His, Hers and Theirs. Have you in your short life actually had to use a separate restroom? In 1956 I actually sat in a front seat of a bus next to a young black male riding from the north right into the south. That man risked a lot by doing so, but so did I when I chose to sit next to him. Do you still have to sit at the back of the bus? During those years when the Reverend Martin Luther King was walking those streets with blacks, whites, rich, poor, commoner and celebrity alike, I was sitting and playing gin rummy over lunch with people of both races. Do you not mix with whites all the time now? Well, maybe with your bad attitude, you are not welcome to do so.
You see, a definition of the word myopic is lacking knowledge, tolerance and foresight. Your lack of true knowledge shows in your work and your press interviews. Your lack of tolerance is apparent in your arrogant attitude. And your lack of foresight concerning your work no doubt cost you your nomination.
The African American cause may not have reached the level you would hold dear, but it sure as heck has come a long way thanks to the white community, especially President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
These very naïve and racist myopic biopics that are being produced these days are fueling more hard feelings than they are good. The furor building at the grass roots is threatening to set race relations back, not forward. You are flirting with a backlash. Just keep whooping up the anger, the hate, the riots, and you will find yourself facing a ton of trouble. And above all, if you are going to tell history, you need to actually know and understand history. You don't have a clue!