Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Adventures in Higher Learning #2: "Boycott" the Movie.

Random Preface:
I think its kind of funny that I decided to write an entry for my blog about my last class while actually IN the class. Eh. I either have major ADD or something, because I get so bored easily. Its not the subject matter that bugs me, or that I'm not entertained and edified by it. I am. What it is, is that I have a very low tolerance for stupid people, people who talk too much, and people with a "holier and smarter than thou" attitude when they don't have a right to I tune class out. Either that or else I think I'm so far intellectually advanced than the most of my classmates that I don't feel the need to actually pay attention. Yes, that was a joke.

Anyhow last week n class we watched an HBO film called "Boycott", which was about Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the start of the civil rights movement.

Going into the movie and knowing what it was about, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the boycott and the ciivil rights movement. I was wrong, as Biggie said, "Dead Wrong". For one, I was not prepared for the level of blatant hatred, ignorance, and racism. Those are all things I do have plenty of experience with in all aspects of my life, hell, for that matter, I've dealt with them recently at work and in my family. But this level of hatred and racism was something unprecedented in my personal experience. Sure, I've heard the name calling, the ignorant statements, the stereotypes, etc. But in Boycott, I saw something a whole lot worse.

A very pregnant woman was sitting in the back of the bus, in the front row of the "colored" section, and this white boy came strolling on through cool as you please, and just gave her this LOOK, as if she were some sort of insect, and all she did was get up and stand in the walkway. I mean...there was NO human courtesy there, she was PREGNANT for God's sake, and he was just being a lazy fuck. A few other things that I found intensely disturbing were:
- A white redneck with overalls on saying to the camera, "Folks need to get smart and join the Klan!"
- A white city government official saying about the bus boycott, that it wouldn't last long because "these Negroes don't have the stomach to keep walking." Yeah, these same people who you worked to death on your plantations, doing work you would never be able to handle, and that still cook all your meals and clean your house? Right.

(They didn't have the stomach to walk, and yet, for a year, this is how the buses looked.)

- Another white city government official that sure, the blacks wanted a better way of life for themselves by not having to abide by Jim Crow laws and segregation, but, he said indignantly, that whites needed to protect their way of life too, "We cannot submit ourselves to the MONGRELIZATION of the human race (I almost threw up here, but it actually got worse) and that in the BIBLE, it says that man and animals should not live amongst each other. (At that point I was so angry I started to get up to leave but my friend Jessica shook her head at me and told me to keep watching. And she herself is black, so I figured if she could take it, then I had no excuse.)

This aspect of racism to me was so ugly and so open that it was sickening. What's even worse is that A LOT of people felt that way, and for that matter, still DO feel that way. And its not just in the South or the Midwest either, my girl Gen tells me that there's a sect of the Klan in Northern California.

I also learned a lot more about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his role in the beginning of the civil rights movement. Most importantly, I learned of his trials and determination in the face of extreme adversity. I didn't know just how many threats to himself and his family he endured, as well as having his house firebombed, and the homes of his associates being firebombed as well. Prior to this movie I had some vague idea that there must have been threats and violence, but seeing it on the screen in front of me had a lot of impact. What made so much of this movie have such an impact on me was that it was mostly oriented towards showing the viewer what went on behind the scenes of the early part of the civil rights movement. The movie illustrated how the movement was made up of multiple interests and personalities, and how all these interests and personalities helped to shape the movement itself and its direction.

Interestingly enough, and I don't know why this is, when I'm always interested in the personal aspect of stories, I never considered how Dr. King was a real, living person, too. I always saw him as a pillar of strength, faith, and determination. He's always been a historical icon and to me has always been sort of larger than life. It's almost as if he didn't have any other feelings. For that matter, it was almost as if he didn't have any doubts or vulnerabilities. Again, I was dead wrong. There was a VERY moving scene in the film where after yet another person calls his home threatening him and his family, Dr. King tried to get himself some dinner, and had a bottle of milk in his hand. His hand began shaking and he dropped the bottle. He just stood there for a few minutes and finally staggered over to sit at the kitchen table. He sat there and tears started falling down his face, and he prayed to God. He asked God to please give him more strength because so many people were depending on him, and he was carrying so much on his shoulders, but he was just so AFRAID, not for himself, but for his family, and he just needed the strength to carry on despite his fears for the safety of his family. I HATE crying in general, and I especially hate doing it in public places, but right then and there tears started welling up in my eyes, and I had to cough and wipe them away because it was just so moving.

Anyway. I suggest everyone see this movie, no matter what age, race, creed, color, whatever, that you may be. It's eye opening and helps you understand so much more than you ever thought you would.

Here's a trailer for the film:

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