What I'm Watching

If Spike Lee's new movie "BlacKkKlansman" was released before November 2016, you might have called it alarming and over-the-top, even with the number of shootings of unarmed black men and women by the police. But this is 2018 and "BlacKkKlansman" is a film that we need right now. It is one of Lee's most visionary and politically passionate films that shows that there is a way out because it did happen before, if only for a split second.

The film is based on the true story of two Colorado Springs police officers who infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, who (of course) are planning criminal acts of violence against black people. In this case, it is the Colorado College Black Student Union. Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) becomes the first black police officer of Colorado Springs. He quickly seeks to leave his boring office job for undercover work.

Stallworth's first assignment is surveilling a speech by a former Black Panther leader, Kwame Ture, born Stokely Carmichael, and presented by the Colorado College Black Student Union. There, Ron meets and falls for the student group's leader, Patrice (Laura Harrier).

Stallworth is a doer. The same urge that made him seek undercover work, even though he is a rookie and black, makes him dial the local chapter of the KKK, after seeing a recruitment ad in the newspaper. Stallworth just dives into his role as a Jew-hating, Black (he uses another word)-basher and is so convincing that the guy he's talking to, Walter Beachway (Ryan Eggold), happily invites him to come down and meets some of the other members. Fellow cop and a Jew, Flip Zimmerman (Adam driver), goes to the meeting in his stead to keep up the charade, while Ron continues talking to Beachway on the phone. And soon, he's also talking to David Duke (Topher Grace), the "national director of the "organization" on the phone as well.

Lee also includes the proper role of the enforcement of the law. Lee emphasizes that the problem with cops who are racist isn't the fact that they're cops but that they're racist, thus integration is important to fight this kind of racism, as seen with Stallworth's interaction with a racist cop, which is played by Frederick Weller. Lee is careful to show that he's an exception, not the norm.

The KKK's use of "Make America Great Again, and "America First" in the film shows how much stronger the radical racist right has become. And we have all played a role in that. Every time we were silent, everytime we allowed the media to cover liars and racists. More black men and women need to run for office, more of us need to become cops. But it isn't too late and "BlacKklansman" shows us that.

Now, if only Lee hadn't included the 2017 march in Charlottesville and Trump at the end of the movie. That was disappointing because he made it into a propaganda movie. The story of Ron Stallworth is good enough on its own. On its own. And I highly recommend seeing it!

Tag: What I'm Watching