I just saw the movie, The Butler. It was an eye-opening film and I’m glad I saw it. Almost immediately, we, the audience were presented with disturbing images. I actually looked away from the scene of two black men who had been hanged from the same noose. Soon after that image, we see a black man shot in the head at point-blank range because he defended the honor of his wife.
Shocking? Provocative? Yes. I think it was smart for the director to show us these things. Why would he want to soften the blow or candy-coat these images? For the sake of appropriateness? To avoid upsetting movie-goers? The sheer truth of the matter is, there was a time in history when black people saw these horrible acts and even worse EVERY DAY! I was crying before my popcorn had a chance to get cold. Even the fact that I was eating popcorn during the movie felt disrespectful to the people who lived through these turbulent times. Turbulent times… the exact description I want to use; and for a little over 2 hours I felt like I was part of those times.
I can honestly say, even though, as a child, my family was affected by domestic violence, I have NEVER experienced such hatred as was depicted in this film and as was lived by the people who were there when our country chose to allow slavery and racial prejudice. The hatred I experienced was a symptom. A symptom of jealousy. A symptom of insecurity. A by-product of physical or sexual abuse. But it never ran so deep as to be provoked by the color of one’s skin.
I will try to keep this post short. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you. I will just say, the acting was superb and the director was brilliant. He chose to introduce us to The Gaines Family. We got to know them as people. For 120+ minutes, racism wasn’t just something that happened to somebody, sometime. No. Racism was affecting the lives of our friends. We saw what they saw, felt what they felt, dreamed what they dreamed and lived what they lived.
I did not vote for Barack Obama because I do not agree with his political platform. I do understand better now, why his election was such a victorious day for black people. There was a time in this country’s history when electing a black man to the office of president would have been considered by most people the equivalent of blasphemy. I am glad that this is no longer the consensus of our nation.
After, the movie, I went to the ladies’ room. As I was washing my hands, I took notice of a black woman who was also at the sink washing her hands. Before that moment, I would have never given this a second thought or even a first; but this time it really touched me. I’m glad I didn’t grow up during the time when my black brothers and sisters had to use a separate bathroom or ride in the back of the bus or sit at a different lunch counter. I am also glad that my children have never experienced segregation. We are ALL created in the image of God. He loves us ALL. We need to follow His example and love one another. We all need to be color blind.