There I was at Prochnow Auditorium watching a free movie on a Saturday night with my roommate when I realized that, although we were watching a movie about racism that took place in the ‘70s, we were still experiencing aspects of it in 2018.
The movie was BlacKkKlansman, directed by Shelton “Spike” Lee, and it was one of the most relevant and thought-provoking movies I’ve watched all year. It’s about a black Colorado Springs police officer, Ron Stallworth, who successfully manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to stop some of the attacks the group was planning. Stallworth spoke to the KKK through the phone but had his colleague, a Jewish police officer, masquerade as him in person.
Before the movie, I didn’t know this actually happened. Mostly because I was ignorant, but also because no one really discusses it. The actor who played Stallworth, John David Washington, went to Morehouse College, a historically all-male black college in Atlanta, Georgia, and even said in an interview that throughout all his classes there, he didn’t learn about this story. Morehouse College has some prominent alumni including Martin Luther King Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and even Lee, to name a few.
Not only did the movie capture the atmosphere in the ‘70s that is scarily similar to the one we live in now, it was funny, personal and sucked me in right from the beginning. I also liked how the movie didn’t hide from what the KKK does. The movie was filled with white hoods, white supremacist rhetoric and burning crosses.
Although at times it was very uncomfortable to watch, I think everyone should watch the movie to educate themselves on this part of history and see how our society really has not changed much 48 years later.
At the end of the movie, Lee made the choice to put video footage of the 2017 Charlottesville riots. The scary part was that the current events blended seamlessly with what happened in the movie. Lee also included some clips of President Donald Trump’s response to the riots. Real life David Duke, the “Grand Wizard” or president of the KKK, had some clips there as well, and Lee made it a point to pause on the memorial site of Heather Heyer, who lost her life during riots.
The movie theater was dead silent at this point — not even the rustle of a popcorn bag sounded through the theater.
The silence remained as the movie concluded with the image of an upside down American flag that slowly turned black and white. There was a pause, and then the whole theater clapped. It was amazing to experience.
Because I didn’t know about Stallworth and his undercover investigation into the KKK, I wanted to write my column on the movie to maybe have one person know about what he did. The climate we live in now is swimming with injustice and racism, and we need more equality, compassion and empathy.
It’s hard to believe that black, Asian, Native American and other minority groups are still being underrepresented, underpaid and under scrutiny while many boast about how innovative and advanced we are in the United States.
We are all human, and we all deserve the basic human rights that are allotted to us. There is no room for hate or warped versions of entire races because of their skin color. Black Klansman: A Memoir is also a book written by the Colorado Springs police officer himself, Ron Stallworth. If movies aren’t your thing, you can read the book. No excuses.