history, Kinyarwanda, race relations, The Birth of a Nation, Truth & Reconciliation

The Rebirth of a Nation — Part 2: Truth and Reconciliation

Team USA at the 2012 Olympics

“Liberty and union, one and inseparable, now and forever!” – Intertitle from The Birth of a Nation

During the recent Olympics, national pride was at an all-time high, especially when medals, preferably gold, were won by Team USA.  Such patriotism was also evident at the conclusion of The Birth of a Nation (“BOAN”) when “order” was restored by the heroically portrayed Ku Klux Klan.  What does BOAN share in common with Team USA?  Both present the façade of an ideal America.  Team USA earned bragging rights for winning the most medals, however, their accomplishments did not indicate America’s dominance in the world.  If the Olympics were based on health care and education test scores, America would find itself ranked too low to get anywhere near the medal podium.

Being proud of one’s country is commendable, especially with objectivity.  In BOAN, the aforementioned concept of “liberty and union” did not include the recently emancipated blacks who were characterized as irresponsible and dangerous.  Their subjugation was deemed necessary for the nation’s well being.  Unfortunately, that same mindset is reflected in current voter ID laws that are expected to disenfranchise many poor, minority and the elderly voters.  The justification is voter fraud, however, the real reason is much more sinister.  I believe these machinations, which include the birthers and the Supreme Court’s ruling on campaign finance, are in play to prevent the reelection of President Obama.  Deeper still, the enmity towards the President stems from an unjustified sense of entitlement, fear of revenge, and suppressed feelings of guilt.

“I believe that the white man has done a great injustice to the black man in this country by having kidnapped our people and brought us here and down to the level we’re on today and today instead of approaching the factors that their original mistake has created, instead of approaching these factors objectively and realistically, their greatest sin that they’re doing now is trying to pretend that they never committed a crime, that they never did any wrong.” – Malcolm X

“Men with vengeance in their hearts need guidance not encouragement.
It is more about the legacy we leave for those behind us.”

Racism continues to haunt America because this nation has yet to atone for the immoral and inhumane institution of slavery from which it greatly profited.  There’s much to learn from other countries like Rwanda in this regard.  In Kinyarwanda, a recent film about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a truth and reconciliation commission was set up after the civil war.  The commission provided a safe place for those who had been brutalized and lost loved ones to face their oppressors and detail how they had suffered.  Their persecutors were then encouraged to empathize with their victims by facing the impact of their crimes.  With forgiveness and unity as the main objective, Rwanda’s truth and reconciliation commission was designed to benefit both the tormented and tormentors.

I often wonder how America would have benefited from a truth and reconciliation commission immediately following the Civil War.  Would this have resulted in greater compassion and more respect for the lives, properties and rights of others?  Or would there still be need for euphemisms like manifest destiny, making the world safe for democracy and justifiable homicide?  Would “liberty and union” include everyone equally?  Unfortunately, we’ll never know.  However, it is certain that America’s unwillingness to regard itself objectively prevents the nation from reaching its full potential.

“He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s words encourage and challenge us to seek the truth at all times.   For without truth, there can be no reconciliation.

 

 

 

Angela Davis, cinema, Film, film industry, Incendies, J. Edgar, Jumping the Broom, Kinyarwanda, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, motion picture industry, Movies, Movies of 2011, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, The Help, The Skin I Live In, The Tree of Life, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, Tom Cruise, Trust

My Memorable Movies — 11 for ’11

 

As we head into the movie awards season, many critics have compiled their best and worst lists for 2011.  Due to the subjective nature of the selections, one critic’s gem is sometimes another critic’s dud.  Who is to say what is truly best and worst?  It’s really all a matter of opinion.  I prefer, however, to focus on what and why some films are unforgettable to me as opposed to ranking them.  Here is my countdown of 2011’s most memorable movies – for reasons ranging from good to bad to notorious:

  1. The Tree of Life – Two hours of my life I’ll never get back; convoluted and overrated.
  1. Jumping the Broom – This should have been a movie on Lifetime – great looking cast, but shallow and predictable.
  1. The Help Imitation of Life meets Steel Magnolias.  That’s all.
  1. The Skin I Live In – Not my favorite Almodóvar film, but a thought-provoking examination of identity.
  1. J. EdgarThis eagerly anticipated Eastwood/DiCaprio collaboration proved to be a major disappointment.  How?  By favoring flashbacks over a linear narrative, safely skimming the surface in regards to the extent Hoover’s constitutional violations destroyed lives and movements, and therefore missing the opportunity to draw parallels to current domestic and foreign policies.
  1. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – Fifty is the new 35. Thanks to the physically fit Tom Cruise and his daring stunts, I now look forward to turning 50.
  1. Trust – Though much is borrowed from Ordinary People, this film about an online sexual predator is a must-see for all teenagers and parents.
  1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 – Taking in a Friday matinee with a theater full of truant teenagers was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a very long time.
  1. Incendies – A wonderfully told, haunting story that stays with you long after the last frame.
  1. Kinyarwanda – Though specific to the Rwandan genocide in 1994, its themes regarding forgiveness and unity are universal and timeless.
  1. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 – Ironically, my most memorable movie moment of 2011 was courtesy of an Angela Davis interview from the 1970s. Davis’s insightful response resonated deeply in my soul as she articulated what I am often too emotional and/or frustrated to clearly express.  In doing so, Davis held up a mirror through which we can see ourselves as we truly are.  For that I am grateful.

Angela Davis: The Black Power Mixtape (excerpt)

 

What are your most memorable movies of 2011 and why?  Please share. 

Happy New Year!

 

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