Monday, May 16, 2011

Movies, Schools and Homes

 If white people don't see themselves in movies, they don't want to go. So says Salon.

White people also don't like to go to schools where they are the minority. They don't like to buy homes in neighborhoods where they will be the minority for the foreseeable future. They don't like to go to churches that are more than 20 percent "colored" either. Pretty much any time the demographics take a trend towards "colored" and the power dynamic shifts with that change, white folks want out.

That really isn't unusual. Most people like things they can relate to, and most people relate better to groups they are familiar with. In turn, most people are familiar with groups that look like them. Simple really.

But, there are troubling side effect that result from those simple facts of life. Since white people are the default target demographic for most things in America, anything that doesn't target white people will likely be marginalized. That marginalization can impact profitability, which of course is the Holy Grail in a capitalist society. In addition, if white people don't like something, there is a distinct possibility that it will be labeled as inferior. Furthermore, due to their position at the top of the power hierarchy in the world, white people get to create reality.

I guess it's not so simple.

For example, white flight is typically used to describe the way white homeowners fled cities from 1950 to 1990 with the exodus gaining particular fervor in the 1970s and 1980s. Often, this phenomenon is presented as an understandable and unavoidable reaction to growing inner city crime, rather than as a racist reaction to integration and the gradual reduction of government sanctioned discrimination. That's what happens when history is your story.

But, what is rarely discussed today is that white flight was not confined to preserving neighborhood composition. Nor do people tend to acknowledge that the practice never stopped. Simply put, white people were not interested in being minorities back then and they still aren't now.
In fact, in a world where white people are actually minorities compared to non-white people it is no accident that white folks have banded together to form enclaves of power through which they attempt to rule the largely colored world. This isn't just because of the innate human vice of greed, but also because white folks took a look around at reality and decided they wanted something different.

Therefore, it doesn't really matter if a movie is really good, if a school is awesome, or if a neighborhood is to die for. If those things aren't also "white" then white people aren't interested. Things are only worthwhile if they are white, have been verified and approved by white people, and openly solicit the involvement of white people.

These are important concepts to remember. Not only do they temper expectations, they provide much needed context for the actions of white people that seem asinine and hypocritical..

If you understand that many white people are not interested in sacrificing their position of dominance and preference, you will understand their persistent resistance to change. If you understand that white people believe the current state affairs is not only God-ordained, but the result of their own ingenuity and hardwork (instead of avarice and cruelty) you will understand why they get so angry about accusations of bias and impropriety.

Those accusations challenge the existence of the realities many of them have invested blood, sweat and tears into creating, and who among us would be willing to sacrifice our realities without resistance?

It's quite simple actually.



MiGrant said...

Head nod.

Anonymous said...

Great Post!!!

I cant congratulate you enough for all your great work here. God Bless.


MC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcbias said...

Then, RBL, the other problem is that if I have a room with 3 white people and 2 black people, the white people always get to choose the movie. Why should majority mean anything? What happens when two black people enter in and now the balance is re-shifted? Good points.

dg said...

really well done!! Things i guess i new on some level but no one has ever broken it down so well and succinctly. What i took from it is if they aint cosigner its wack. thats some bulls**t

dg said...

so what do we do?

Big Man said...

Thanks for the comments folks.


Majority rule has it's place. I find that people only support majority rule when they are the majority though. And if we did majority rule for the entire world, well we know for sure who would be losing, don't we?


What you do is keep an eye on the BS and live your life as you see fit. You can't change people's minds. You can just give them information and hope they change their minds on their own.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, Knocked it out he park! But I’ve come to expect nothing less. If it ain’t white it’s not alright, I believe that’s the unwritten motto. My family and some others integrated a Los Angeles CA neighborhood in the mid 70’s and by the end of the decade most of the white folks sprouted wings and flew away to predominantly white communities such as Orange County and the non-brown sections of the San Fernando Valley. Similar story about the middle school I and others integrated.

Whites not going to see movies with predominantly Black cast is nothing new. I remember when Spike Lee first came on the scene, some interviewer (white guy) asked Spike why he does not have white people in his movies? Spike responded by asking the interviewer, you ever ask Woody Allen why there are no Black people in his movies? The silence was deafening. Unless a Black movie is assuaging white anxieties, white folks are not going to turn out. The ripple effect from this is that a movie studio will never give a Black director the size budget that will be given to a Spielberg, or even a white director of a lesser caliber. Movies by White directors flop all the time, but Black directors are never given the chance to fail.

“Those accusations challenge the existence of the realities many of them have invested blood, sweat and tears into creating, and who among us would be willing to sacrifice our realities without resistance?”

The investment of blood, sweat and tears makes for good story telling, but don’t omit the part about the Trail of Tears. I don’t mind if people create their own reality, my only request is that the reality reflects the totality of their existence, and not just some patch-work, sugar coated, feel good story.

Big Man said...

My family had the same experience integrating a suburb in New Orleans. White flight like a motha.

Deacon Blue said...

A good reminder of the need to be more aware of my own habits and preferences as a white person consuming media output. Sure, I've seen many movies with all or mostly black casts, but often because I'm with Mrs. Blue or Son of Blue, and that's what they want to see. It's not a burden to me at all, and I enjoy most of those movies, but still, would I have gone to them otherwise? Maybe not.

Some of them, yes, but mostly I would drift toward films with casts more predominantly white. And is that because it's what the corporate powers churn out to satisfy the masses, or is it because of my own internal racial perceptions.

Probably a little of both.

Still, I guess there's hope for me. When I play computer games that allow me to customize skin color and such of a character, I probably go for dark skin about a third of the time.

Baby steps, eh? Hard to make huge steps, though, against the massive infrastructure and paths set out by a society based on whiteness.

As always, Big Man, thanks for making me think. It's always good to be reminded that no matter how open-minded I am, I have many hangups and areas for improvement like anyone else.

Anonymous said...

But it's the fault of black filmmakers too. Instead of making fantasy,science fiction,romance,action films,cartoons,buddy comedies,indie dramas it's all this 'lord done me wrong' or 'listen to me mama' bulls**t. I'm not knocking someone else's vision but jeeez I need a break from the damn mononity. Black actors and directors are guilty of doing stuff that pigeonholes us.

Justa Notha said...

I am.

Raving Black Lunatic