Tonight at the Community Cinema we were treated to BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s Oscar Winning adaptation of the true story of the infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan. Not just that the infiltration by a black man, Ron Stallworth. He was a Police Officer in Colorado Springs, their first black officer. Not long after joining he became involved in undercover work and then intelligence. Depicted in the film he decided one day to reply to an advertisement in the local newspaper about the Klan. The story sounds fanciful, except it’s true. The film is based on Stallworth’s account of the events and includes his discussions with David Duke, who has made attempts to make the Klan part of mainstream America. He’s still here, we discover, telling us that it’s time to take America back. I’m not clear from whom.
The film shows what the Klan stood for; basically white power and white supremacy, putting America first. It makes clear as well that this is really white men we’re talking about. Women ensure that they know their place as well. Actually it’s white, Christian men they’re talking to here. A white Jewish officer in the film doesn’t have a problem with the Klan until he interacts with them, their behaviour erodes his indifference.
We see throughout with the appearance of David Duke and the use of phrases such as America First that the story has links with the present day. That point is made clear with the film ending with footage of the events in Charlottesville in August 2017, and the reaction to these events of Donald Trump. The struggle continues. The film as well shows us the genesis of these events from the making of The Birth of a Nation and the tattered Old Glory confederate flag in Gone With The Wind. It juxtaposes meetings of the Klan and meetings of a Black Power group at the local college. This enables us to compare and contrast.
In the discussion group afterwards there was unanimity that it was a good film. Some people felt uncomfortable viewing these events. Due to the subject matter some thought that it was quite a painful watch as well. People thought the short, Born With It, was maybe a little twee. It did though explore racism successfully as well. It was the story of a black Japanese boy experiencing racism at a new school, but he discovers friendship as well. We had a good, thought provoking evening.