Blackkklansman is Spike Lee’s new film which focuses on the real-life story of Ron Stallworth. Stallworth is a retired police officer with the Colorado Springs Police Department who infiltrated the KKK in the late 1970’s. The film was a tribute to the violence that happened in Charlottesville the year prior and was released the weekend of the anniversary.
With respect to the legend Spike Lee, it is something about this movie that made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Many times I questioned, what audience was this movie made for? When the movie ended and Heather Heyer (who lost her life when a car sped through a group of counter-protestors in Charlottesville) popped up on the screen, I knew what audience the movie was for.
It seemed to appeal more to white folks, in an attempt to acknowledge not the violence of the KKK historically against Black folks, but to touch on this more recent event.
Serious Issues Presented As A Comedy
What I found problematic is how serious and important history was made into a comedy. There is nothing funny about the subject matter. No matter how light Spike Lee and the writers tried to present this movie so that white folks would be comfortable, the KKK has historically wrecked serious violence and havoc in Black communities and are responsible for a lot of Black trauma and death.
Use of The N-word Was Overkill
The use of the word Nigger was so triggering that it made another Black woman I went to the movies with and myself extremely upset. I understand the use of the word within context of the film but I feel like I heard it at least 80-100 times. If Black people are going to be guilt-tripped into supporting films on the strength they are presented by Black writers, directors and producers–the same level of consideration on how their Black viewers may be affected by the writing or movie itself–needs to happen.
I wanted to support this film even though I had to watch it in a movie theatre in a small, rural, white town where I currently live. Imagine that. Especially since the town is rumored to have an active KKK chapter that can not be confirmed or denied. Maybe if I start asking around about “the organization” I may get some solid information.
Ron StallWorths Character As A Black, Naive Cop
David Lee Washington, Denzel Washington’s son, plays Ron Stallworth and I was thrown off by how naive he was as a cop. However, it is expected when Black folks become involved with white supremacist institutions. When Stallworth’s Lieutenant explained the KKK Grand Wizard David Duke had political aspirations, Ron Stallworth’s character could not believe that a racist could be elected into political office. The Lieutenant, a white man, had to tell him, “Ron! Don’t be so naive!”
I feel like this movie did a lot to present police officers in a way to illustrate that they are willing to out the racist cop on the force. Not saying this does not happen, but more times than not, there is a serious code of silence and officers will stick together for fear of being ostracized rather stepping out against one another. The rushed bar scene where the blatantly racist cop was arrested by the police chief was so bizarre to me.
There were a couple scenes where the directing definitely gives the classic Spike Lee touch but overall the film made me very uncomfortable. I know Wakanda was a made up universe but at least it was a film to be proud of. What Blackkklansman does a great job of is illustrating the role of Black people within systems of white supremacy and how we become more focused on supporting what the system wants, than the liberation of our own people.