As good as it may be that folks are noticing the orphans and widows, we are also told to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. I once had a shirt with a quote by Dom Helder Camara, “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” It seems to be getting easier to find ways to talk about and to serve the poor and yet we ignore (or are ignorant to) the many polluters in our world that are creating the widows and orphans in the first place. Jesus taught us that life is about loving God and loving our neighbor… I would like to suggest that anything that hinders our relationship with God or neighbor is a polluter that needs to be dealt with. Caring for the widow and orphan is important but we also need to deal with the pollution (injustice) that keeps them in poverty.
After watching Django slaughter every white person in sight, I felt strange as I exited the theater alongside the rest of the mostly white audience. I wanted to pick out the dude who had laughed at the dynamite in the slave cage, but I also hoped nobody had been too put-off by my delight at an unarmed white woman getting more or less executed. Still, the unease I felt walking out was probably my favorite part of Django Unchained: On the one hand, you're unsettled by the behavior of the characters in the film; on the other, you're also unsettled by how you and everyone else in the theater reacted to those characters. Were you laughing with the movie, or was the movie laughing at you?
Get in touch with your hidden wound. On the wall here at Rutba House, we have a quote from the aboriginal sister Lila Watson: “If you’ve come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your salvation is bound up with mine, then let us walk together.” Sure, we’ve got to give up trying to be the hero. But, more than that, we have to learn to see that addressing histories of oppression and systems of injustice is about liberating our own souls from the death-dealing, schizophrenic patterns that we’ve inherited. White people have to learn how to name the ways racism has hurt us too.
The Year in Race
When being a part of a marginalized community disentitles people from complexity of thought, it perpetuates the same system of oppression and privilege that made those communities marginalized to begin with. We cannot simultaneously decry the existence of privilege and then exercise it to tell those who have been oppressed how they are allowed to advocate on their own behalf. If we want a meaningful social justice movement aiming at change for those who have been disenfranchised, we have to let go of the idea that we can assume a monolithic voting bloc. Fighting for increased political power for those who have been underrepresented means increased political diversity, and we have to make room for the fact that sometimes progress will bring more black Republicans.
In every single category, Latinos show dramatic improvement from the first generation in 1980 to the second generation in 2005! Over 90% of the children of immigrants live above the poverty line, almost equal to white native-born Americans, hardly evidence of a permanent underclass that Ann Coulter and her fellow Nativists constantly whine about.
Being uncomfortable. False ownership of terms. False ownership of cultures. Troubled histories. Finger-pointing. Segregation in an integrated world (or is it integration in a segregated world?). All of these things contributed to the myriad emotions I felt in that theater. But these were just my emotions. There were hundreds of people in that theater alone, and hundreds of thousands more have already viewed the movie. Everyone's seeing Django. That's what makes it an important work, beyond the quality, because we're all having to deal with it, together.
"Even for the movie's biggest black detractors, I think their children will grow up and love this movie," Taratantino said. "I think it could become a rite of passage for young black males."
The presumptuousness of that sentiment is striking to some — passage from what to what, exactly? Watching somebody getting blown away in nearly every frame hardly seems like indoctrination young black men need, if they haven't been indoctrinated into such violence already.
Facing Race 2012: Junot Díaz Press Conference
While Ocean may be making light of the situation, the reality is that men who have the same skin color he does are arrested at much higher rates than whites—even though federal surveys find that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks.
Ocean’s residence is in Beverly Hills, but next-door, the City of Los Angeles arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites, according to a study by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project for the Drug Policy Alliance and the California NAACP.
The researchers say many studies have shown that racial discrimination can negatively affect black student success in school, particularly for black males, who are at greater risk for being unfairly disciplined, being discouraged from taking advanced classes, or receiving lower grades than they deserved. So it would follow that young black boys and girls armed with race pride and the knowledge that they are brilliant and talented—no matter what a particular teacher or classmate might say—will go far, unfettered by the baggage that race can present.