Spike Lee Stirs The Racism Pot

Famous African-American person is offended and accuses a famous white person of racial bias. Sound familiar?

When will this ever end?

To his credit, Spike Lee is a first class movie director. He’s also a thin-skinned boob stirring the racism pot. This is the kind of rhetoric that serves to exacerbate race relations, not help them.

Imagine casting Sidney Poitier as Mafia heir, Michael Corleone, in “The Godfather” instead of Al Pacino. Would that make sense? Or, casting lily white Keanu Reeves for a lead role in “The Color Purple?” Better yet, Halle Berry as Queen Elizabeth I.

Politically correct, maybe. But would viewers buy into racial equity instead of historical accuracy?

At a recent conference at the Cannes Festival, Mr. Lee openly complained that Eastwood’s Epic movies “Flags Of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” were cast without black actors. Spike went on, “There were many African Americans who survived that war, who were upset at Clint for not having them in the films. That was his version: The Negro soldier did not exist. I have a different version.”

Spike picked on the wrong guy who, at the age of 73, two Oscars to his credit and nothing to lose, had one thing to say. “A guy like him ought to shut his face.”

Flags Of Our Fathers” is a film about the men raising the flag on Mount Suribachi, one of whom was a Native American, so casted. Other than a small munitions detachment on Iwo Jima, there were no blacks involved in the core story. In “Letters From Iwo Jima,” Eastwood made the movie from the point of view of Japanese Soldiers. Sorry, no African-Americans there either.

Well…let’s castigate that racist Clint Eastwood, he should have hired on Samuel L. Jackson as the Japanese commander.

 

I’ve said it before. This society will never become color blind as long as those of color continue to remind us of what color they are. That goes for sports figures, journalists, actors, politicians and the dudes of the Hood.

Motion picture actors must be cast as the script calls for, particularly in true stories when historical characters are being portrayed. Joan of Arc was not a black woman and Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t white.

Is this stupid, or what?

Spike Lee has made some good movies, like “Mo Better Blues,” “Malcom X,” and “Jungle Fever.” Even if he felt a pang of personal anger over the absence of blacks in a non-black movie, he should never have gone public with it. Low class. What was there to gain? Intimidation? Clint Eastwood?

Spike should take the master’s advice and shut his face. Not only that, he owes Eastwood a public apology. No…I’m not holding my breath.

Maybe I am a bit racist when it comes to role playing in films. I lived through the era of Jackie Gleason’s hey day, and could not bring myself to accept African-Americans portraying Ralph Kramden and company in “The Honeymooners,” any more than I could accept Sean Connery playing Malcom X.

In Barack Obama’s first speech when he would not disassociate with Reverend Wright, I’ll not forget the subtle but significant reference to his grandmother which his starry-eyed followers chose not to hear, “Like a typical white person.” I still wonder what the reaction would be if a white politician uttered the same remark in reverse.

I, for one, am sick and tired of the likes of Reverends Wright, Jackson, Sharpton, and Farrahkan (and I hesitate to use the term Reverend) forever on the edge of finger-pointing, ready to scream racism at the drop of a hat, summoning the media, holding white America hostage to the sins of yesteryear.

In the justice arena, we hear about disproportionate numbers of blacks in prison, compared to their population ratio. With that mentality, the prisons should only house 12 percent African-American, and 12 percent Hispanics. But the actual crime tables don’t support that ratio, which is why the inmate population is out of whack.

Perhaps the justice system is sexist as well. After all, women comprise 51 percent of the population, but only 7 percent of prison inmates. Is this discrimination against men? Sure, let’s lock up more women than men to make it proportionately fair.

I digress…slightly. Spike Lee’s rant is but a microcosm of why strains still exist within the racial arena. He’s done well. He’s a genius. He’s a multi-millionaire. And he should be praising fellow directors who have accomplished so much, and indirectly taught him so much, instead of lashing out with empty-headed charges that make him more of a racist than the man he accuses.

 

 

 

Parenting: To Do It All Over Again

Ever ponder what you’d do different if you had a chance to do it all over again as a parent, now that you are older and wiser?

Hindsight is the only time most of us will truly experience 20/20 vision.

Pre-birth babies spend nine warm months in a cozy environment only to be suddenly thrust into the world of air conditioning, bright light, a cacophony of sounds and to make it worse, a whack on the butt. Now, my child would enter the world in a tub of warm water in dim light, without harsh sounds, and immediately placed upon his/her mothers chest after birth.

I would play recordings of Mozart sonatas softly in the background of his/her room, to present soothing sounds of perfect melody, give the baby a sense of order and instill a love of music.

I would try talking to my child in adult tones, and depart from the goochy goo so many of us introduce as “communications.” Parents often mimic the baby, instead of teaching the baby to mimic us.

I would start introducing the hazards of today’s world before the child ever stepped foot in first grade. He/she would know, in simple terms, the horrors of drugs and alcohol abuse. Indoctrinated at an early age about shunning peer pressure, those values would be and fixated long he/she steps into a middle school.

I would introduce healthy and moral-minded celebrities, besides Mom and Dad, as role models for my child. Tiger Woods instead of Dennis Rodman. Celine Dion instead of Britney Spears. Athletes who cheat, movie stars who cheat, and people who lie, use drugs and cannot speak without using profanity would be off limits to my child, as long as I had the controls.

I would curb, or stop, my own negative habits, like smoking, and drinking to excess, because I would know I am a role model with a powerful influence on my child.

My child would witness his/her parent’s work ethic. Whether it be maintaining the home or working at a job, the child would learn the difference between achievement and non-achievement.

We would share at least one meal a day, in unison, at the table. If people are too busy for any other time to meet and talk, the dinner table offers a forum for togetherness. Dinners while glued to a television set, where no one talks to each other, would be prohibited.

I would limit television throughout the early growing up years. Too many parents, in my opinion, use television as an electronic baby sitter. I would strongly monitor everything that the child watches to ensure good health of mind and morals.

No television in the child’s bedroom until it reaches middle teens. But I’d surround the room with books.

I would read more to my child, and teach him/her that reading is wonderful.

It is important that a growing child have access to a computer, if nothing else, but to utilize for education and school assignments. However, for his/her protection, Internet would not be available in the child’s private bedroom until after the age of eighteen. A family computer with Internet would be set up in a common area, which is not private.

Material objects would take second or third place behind activity and accomplishment. As the child gets older, more joy would be stressed about giving instead of receiving, especially at holiday celebrations.

At an early age, I’d do all I could to help the child learn a second language, preferably Spanish or French which are the international languages.

The proverbial dog would wag the tail. I would tell, not ask, the child what we’re having for lunch or dinner. I would tell, not ask, the child that he/she is going to learn to play the piano, or take art lessons, or play sports, or help mom or dad around the house.

I would do as much listening as speaking, including rather than excluding, stroking rather than criticizing, and do more to develop self-esteem.

As the child grows, he/she would learn that work brings positive rewards in many forms. He/she would learn that there is nothing free in the adult world, and it’s good to earn money — even around the house — because it develops appreciation for the dollar.

Love and loyalty supercedes selfishness and ego. He/she would learn how important it is to be there for others in the tough times, as well as the good times.

I’d help my child learn a hobby or special interest that will stick with him/her throughout life. If someone can do something really well, whether it be music, art, writing, history, collecting coins, making model cars, whatever, it will abate the loneliness of dark times.

In the teen years, I’d place more emphasis on education and sights toward the future.

I would teach my teenage kid to cope with adversity. Not every day will be a good day, and he/she would have to handle the tough times like a man or a woman, not a child.

I would also shed the role of authoritarian as soon as possible and try to become more of a mentor, guide, and above all, always letting my child know how much he/she is loved.

Finally, I would try and share these reflections with my adult child as he/she becomes a parent also.