My husband and I watched "The Blind Side" on On-Demand movies last night. I thought it was a pretty good feel-good movie. Afterwards, my husband said to me, "That was nice of her, to adopt the young black kid, Big Mike, like she did."
I said, "I liked the movie, but it did seem a bit condescending to me. We didn't learn anything about what was going on in Michael's head, just that some white lady saved him and taught him football. I wonder how Black people felt watching this movie. You know, a white person saving a black person, relieving her White guilt. I wonder if a part of her saved him so he would go to ole Miss, like the movie said."
He responded, "Well, it was a true story. Regardless what the reason, she did save him. I wonder what would happen if all rich white people adopted a poor black kid."
I said, "Why would they do that? Black people don't need to be saved by White people. Black people should be able to help themselves. They do you know."
He said, "But they do much drugs....so much poverty."
I said, "And white people don't? Come on. You know the USA has the highest drug rate in the world. Every group does drugs. Every group has poverty. Go watch Cops or Intervention for Heaven's Sake. It's all there."
At this point, we stopped the banter. We both decided I should look up info on the backstory while we watched the MSU basketball game. After the great win by MSU, we picked up our conversation again.
I shared the info on the backstory. The biggest difference between the true story and the movie was the fact that Michael was already a highly skilled football player and was named Lineman of the year before he met the family, so the part of the so-called "true story" where Momma taught Big Mike football, was NOT true. However it was true that they were Michael's foster parents (he had several during this period) and Momma took him into their home as a family member, which is a very nice thing.
Many of the reviews/comments about the movie indicated the audience was split, 50/50. About half felt like my husband did, and half (mostly minorities) felt like I did. The 50% on his side seemed rather angry that the other side even voiced a concern.
The other side (commenters) explained their perspective. One person in particular was concerned that out of all the positive minority success stories in our country, Hollywood chose this story and "it is being turned into a glittery hero story wherein the white lady saves the black boy from his destitution and we all applaud her for her white knightery."
The commenter continued: "we cannot forget the institutional racism which still exists and prevents everyone from being treated EXACTLY the same way...(same privileges, opportunities for success, same treatment...) and within the historical context of slavery and the subsequent white guilt, this means something. It means something that Hollywood considered this to be a hugely marketable story worthy of the star power of Sandra Bullock over, say, a story of a white lady adopting a white boy and changing his life."
My husband and I both sat back after reading both sides of the argument. We both had rough childhoods. We both lived in poverty. We both know many people who made wrong choices in their lives and went down the drug-ridden paths of life.
I was lucky to have both parents, hard working and focused on making a better life for their children. They insisted that all their children complete their education and obtain good jobs/careers. I remember supportive teachers. But I also remember some teachers and counselors who tried to steer me away from college saying I would wind up pregnant anyway so I should take vocational classes which would benefit me. My husband didn't have it much easier, coming from a family of divorce with very little guidance or structure.
In every social structure, there are dominant and oppressed group. The dominant group in our society are the haves, those with power, privilege and influence. The oppressed are those that live in poverty. For centuries, minorities fell within the ranks of the oppressed. Since the Civil Rights movement we have gradually seen a number of minorities break the barriers. It is difficult, however, to break through these barriers. The Civil Rights movement was only 50 years ago and racism still continues to raise its ugly head. That was the problem with the movie. It took us back 150 years.
I actually liked this movie. It is a bag of popcorn movie you cannot take too seriously nor literally. The problem however is it takes us 150 years back into our history. We applauded Miss Scarlett for helping Big Sam who was her protector, just like we applaud Momma for helping Big Mike in this movie.