OK, so. Selma.
So far, I’ve seen it twice. I will probably see it again, at least once.
Between the first viewing and the second viewing, the offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked in France. Also, between my first and second viewings of Selma, the NAACP offices in Colorado Springs were bombed and more than 2,000 people were massacred by Boko Haram in Baga. And then, the day after they massacred 2,000 people, Boko Haram used a 10 year old girl as a suicide bomber. I haven’t said much about any of this. I’ve got mixed emotions. I’m also reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. And, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the blood-stained asphalt in Ferguson, or the defense attorney in the George Zimmerman trial saying Trayvon Martin was “armed with the sidewalk.”
So, along with the context I shared with you last time, I brought all of that with me to the movie because, as H would say, you can’t help but tell your story.
People keep wondering where our leaders are. I keep hearing people ask, “Where’s our Dr. Martin Luther King?” But, I don’t think it’s going to happen the same way it did last time. I think we are the change we’ve been waiting for. I think this is a movement and it’s going to take a while. Either we’re in it for the long haul, or we’re just looking for a quick fix. It’s still true: Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I’m trying to pay attention to my blind spots. Yesterday, on my way to a workshop on diversity and cultural awareness, a woman drove past me on the street and I made a snap judgement about her. I looked at her car and the way she sat behind the driver’s seat and the way she wore her hair and the expression on her face, and I labeled her. Just like that. The label was not nice. I want to stop doing that.
I still gravitate toward people who make me feel comfortable.
The second time I saw Selma, I wondered what white people might think about the movie? What do white people feel about how they are portrayed in Selma? With whom did they identify in the movie? I tried to put myself in the place of a white person watching the movie, but I don’t know how well I did.
Here’s the main thing I took away from seeing Selma, both times I saw it: there was no blueprint for the Civil Rights Movement. No one knew if what they were doing was actually going to make a difference. No one had seen the end of the story. Not really. But still, they were willing to risk their lives for something they believed in. Not at the expense of someone else but rather because they saw the benefit to everyone. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The movie I don’t want to see is American Sniper. I have preconceived notions and prejudices about the people and issues depicted in these types of movies and I don’t want them dismantled. And I have ideas about the people who are praising the movie and defending the man about whom the film was written. I have thoughts about why American Sniper is getting so much buzz while Selma seems to have been snubbed by the Academy of Motion Pictures. I do not have an open mind, and I’m telling you because I want to be fair when you and I talk about these things. We are in this together, aren’t we? So, while what I really want to do is go see Selma again, I am trying to talk myself into going to see American Sniper instead. Being uncomfortable is part of the process.
I’m trying to pay attention to my blind spots.
Some questions for you: Do you have any blind spots? What adjustments might you have to make in order to move from wanting a quick fix to settling in for the long haul? Have you seen American Sniper? What did you think? What were the lessons you took away from that particular movie?