Friday, June 29, 2007

Confederate States of America. And Our Public Schools.

So yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling severely limiting "race" as a characteristic in public school integration is kinda whack. I mean, I guess they think "we have overcome" and that we've remedied 400+ years of systemic racism, oppression, and free labor building the U.S.

Anyway, all I have to say is that I went to predominantly black public schools in Detroit -- K - 12 -- and it never hurt me. At least I don't think it did.

I learned to love being black, loved being in the care of black teachers and administrators who cared about us, and subsequently learned how the "outside world" looks at us who had similar experiences in all black schools. Most of my peers have earned multiple degrees and stellar careers despite being in all-black schools. The "outside world" does't get how we succeed even when faced with what they deem are "less than" conditions.

So in light of the direction many would like our country to go (back to), I decided to dig up this entry I wrote a couple years ago regarding the film Confederate States of America. Basically, what if the South had won. Sometimes, it feels like it did.

From October 2005:

So I went to a screening of this film C.S.A.: Confederate States of America last night. And it was so good. I mean SO GOOD. And I want each of you -- if you work at a school, community center, or civic/social justice organization, or are a part of a black Greek-letter organization, or have any capability of planning events -- to get this film screened at your place or organization.

Kevin Willmott, the director and filmmaker, has a Hollywood resume that is chock full o' achievements. He's also an academic. And he wanted to do something different. To help young people, and society in general, understand the full implications of what life in the States would have been like (and is currently like today) if the South had won the Civil War. He used humor to teach.

It's done in a mock-umentary style. Complete with "commercial" breaks that reflect how products would be peddled if the South had won. Complete with "news breaks" of modern day slave revolts (i.e. riots in major cities). Complete with a preview of the fall TV lineup's most eagerly awaited show, "Captured," which is a take off on "Cops." Really interesting. Kevin's philosophy with this issue is that you have to teach with laughter and humor and sarcasm, so the film will make you roll on the floor... then you'll stop and think at the same time. And then you stop and think about TODAY, and how much of our internalized racism, internalized hatred, and internalized "issues" in the black community are rooted in the effects of slavery.

And the sad part, is that many kids today just think TODAY IS and THEY ARE... with no history or shoulders that made them who they are.

Kevin is based in Kansas and is willing to travel and meet with groups to screen the film. He's gotten it into Sundance. Is looking to get distribution so that the film can hit theatres this winter. Currently, it's in the worst theatre in Memphis, he joked. So... if you're in Memphis... go support!

And just like I've heard other filmmakers, actors, and writers talk about... Hollywood isn't the place where quality films featuring black and brown faces and themes are welcomed. Really interesting.

Oh yeah... and we'd all be living and prospering in Canada. But Aunt Jemina and Uncle Ben would still be part of the present-day culture of the C.S.

Gotta see the film to find out why and how.



Clay said...

thanks for the info - glad to know it was good ... i hope it comes to DVD or a movie theatre near nyc soon ... said...

Hi Fred I'm, Troy Johnson, founder of (The African American Literature Book Club). I discovered your Blog through Cydney Rax's website This is defintely a good thing that she has done helping to promote you and your blog through her web site.

The Confederate States of America sounds like a very interesting film. I will check out the website.

Good luck with your work and visit my Blog and web site when you have the opportunity.


Joanne said...

Hey Fred. If you know him, please email me and I can see about doing a screening here where I work (Howard Univ.) Sounds like a good movie for discussion, etc.

Joanne said...

Ooops, sorry about the no email thing. Um, I sent an email to you using your website. Don't know if that'll work or how long to get to you....