Everything is Not OKKK
Spike Lee’s next film, co-produced by Jordan Peele, BlacKkKlansman, will be arriving in theaters on August 10th, 2018. On first glance, this date may not seem particularly important. Lee’s film, based on the memoir by Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who infiltrated the KKK in 1979, will be released at the end of the summer blockbuster season full of superheroes, action, and comedy movies that are meant to appeal to viewers who are looking for pure entertainment during the lazy summer months. Why would Lee choose this period for a historical film that deals with racism and the KKK? And, why is this so newsworthy?
Unite the Wrong
On August 11th through to August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a demonstration entitled “Unite the Right Rally,” which consisted of white supremacists and neo-nazis, took place to protest the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E.Lee. The protesters, who were repeating racist chants in unison, were met by counter-protestors. When the demonstrators were told to disperse, a car drove into a group of counter-protesters killing one person and injuring several others. This event became infamous, not only for the seemingly emboldened public resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, but also due to the tone deaf response from President Donald Trump who stated that there was “blame on both sides.” Trump meant there was equal blame to be shared among the white supremacists and those protesting racism.
To Not Forget
Lee is aligning the release of BlacKkKlansman to coincide with the one year anniversary of this event. Lee, never shy to speak out about racial injustices in life and in his work, is ensuring that the explicitly racist and violent events in Charlottesville would not be forgotten one year later. . Furthermore, Lee’s film is about a black police officer who went undercover to fight against the KKK, which demonstrates that, sadly, the issues that many thought belonged to a bygone era, including white supremacy and Nazism, are not only present in 2018, but recently emboldened and revived.
Lee’s release date draws shocking and saddening parallels between 1979 and 2017 which illustrates that, even following the election of the first black American president, issues that a film set in 1979 is dealing with are not only relatable, but actively occurring. Lee is ensuring that anyone who watches BlacKkKlansman will be reminded of the events of Charlottesville and unable to ignore how present these topics are today and how much attention they still require.