Swagger Envy: ‘Get Out’ Reveals Familiar and Relevant Racial Paradox

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“ N_____ fear what they don’t understand. Hate what they can’t conquer.”


“Hatred is Self Hatred and there’s something suicidal about it.”

-James Baldwin

Ever since Jordan Peele dropped the scathing and brilliant, “Get Out” nearly two weeks ago, there’s been mad discussions and analysis on the themes of this    movie and about understanding race relations in America. This movie is without a doubt the best movie that I have seen in a minute and at the same time the most challenging one I’ve had to give my take on.

This movie has so many layers to it that I had to take nearly a week to think about how “deep” I want to go with this and what angles I wanted to discuss. While I enjoyed this delicious piece of celluloid magic and all its nuances and kinks, the scene that was the cherry on the pie of my range of emotions during this movie was when a white character in the film, said “Black is in fashion right now” after he was asked by Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) why were black people being singled out.
To tell y’all the truth, that scene pissed me off. Why? Because I can’t begin to tell you how many times I would see, for example hairstyles and some clothes and accessories that is commonly worn by black women in magazines such as Cosmo or on sites that cater to a mainstream audience, and they declare those things as the “new trend” while those same clothes and hairstyles that I either have rocked or am rocking right at this moment, are considered ‘tasteless’ and ‘gaudy’ on me. If that’s not bad enough, how about enduring the faux curiosity of “Wow! How do you get your hair like that? Can I touch it?”
 And I’m not about to talk about how sports, music and dance have been received because I’ll be sitting here all day talking about it to make a point.
 The problem isn’t and never been the attention and admiration in itself. The problem is loving the trends, the style and the swag while mocking, deriding and sometimes straight up hating the trendsetter.

I was raised in the Foothills of western North Carolina. McDowell County to be exact. There’s one high school and whites make up the majority. Aside from the annual end of year fight over the Confederate flag, we had blacks and whites bobbing our heads to hip hop. Talking about the NBA and NFL all day, everyday and twice on Sunday. Dancing and the whole nine. Years later, some of the people that I’ve went to school with expressed some shocking views about Black Lives Matter and about police brutality. Now these were the same folks who were trying to dress like me and my friends. Trying to act like me and my friends and who loved our vibe. Now me and my friends and our rights don’t matter. We’re ‘just angry’. They have ‘lost respect’ for usAfter looking at Get Out, I knew that they were no different than the Armitages in the movie. This is basically their attitude:

 “You as a black person are okay in doses. We’re digging the music, the fashion, the slang. We especially love it when you are running a 100 yards down a field, slamming on folks on the court, dabbing on and hittin’ them folks but we are not and never really have been digging you completely. But at the same time, we’re not racist. That’s so long ago. Ignore the killings by police, unfair discriminatory practices. You shouldn’t have anything to complain about because: ‘Black’ is in Fashion Right Now and you are more prosperous than you’ve ever been.”

Right now? Try always. There’s never really been a point in history that we as black people weren’t in style. We ain’t new to this. We aint new at all to this. We’ve been trendsetters. Been cool. Been resilient and rich and culture and soul, and what we have is coveted while we are an after thought or objectified. That was one of the main points that Peele was trying to make in the film in my opinion. Black is in fashion and in style to the point that the Armitages and their friends and neighbors in the movie literally wanted a piece of Chris. Implanted Rose’s grandmother in Georgina and implanted her grandfather in Walter. To gain ageless beauty and athletic ability

The Armitages desired to have access to blackness-the perks and cool ish without taking on the burdens and double standards. If you pay attention to Walter’s scenes, he was always doing something physical: the crazy running scene when he hit that corner like a football player was subtle and it spoke to the desire to exploit and use the black body for consumption.

While Peele brilliantly, exposed the bipolar nature of racism, there was a theme that he could have spent more time on: Self Hatred. Chris’ psychological weakness is tied to the death of his mother. He still feels the guilt of not calling for help after her accident. Chris also sees Rose as “the only thing he has left”. I’m not saying that Chris suffered from self hatred completely but there were some symptoms present. The dangers of aspiring to be truly colorbrind could have been better represented had Peele added more depth to Chris.

While I’m on the topic of self hatred and the need for assimilation to the point that it teeters on losing your identity is something that I find fascinating. My fascination with this has been elevated because of this movie. It’s wild that there are some men and women who believe in the culture of white supremacy to the point that they hate who they are and on the other hand, there are the beneficiaries of it who wants to appropriate what these kind of men and women devalue. For all of the wonderful things that black culture possess, it’s ironic that some men and women don’t see it that way because of conditioning or the belief of celebrating your own is divisive. James Baldwin was once quoted as saying: “Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it.” What I got from “Get Out” is this: “ Don’t let go of that crown, no matter what others think and if you have let it go, Get that crown, shine it up and rock it because it’s valuable. It’s priceless and it suits you.”

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