Blackkklansman Touches a Nerve With Students

By Jami Procanik ‘19

Recently, the Canterbury community watched a series of films for Black History Month. These showings were organized by Canterbury’s Cultural, Diversity and Inclusion Club (CDIC). Among the films was Spike Lee’s Academy Award-winning and Oscar-winning film Blackkklansman.

The film starred John David Washington and Adam Driver as two undercover officers who infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado during the late 1970s. The movie was adapted from a novel written by Ron Stallworth, an African American cop who established contact with and was inducted into, the KKK, without the KKK leader knowing Stallworth’s race. For actual meetings with the KKK, a Jewish cop named Flip Zimmerman posed as Stallworth.

This film not only illustrates rumored attacks by the KKK, but it also touches upon many relevant racial issues prominent today, especially in the United States. Lindsay Mulhern, the faculty advisor to the CDIC, says they decided to show this film because “Blackkklansman addresses a really sensitive topic with a bit of humor, which is really important for a teenage audience.”

Sherley Arias Pimentel ‘19, a member and leader in the CDIC, says that this movie shows a unique perspective of a major event in history, one that is not “in the textbooks”. Overall she really enjoyed the movie due to the creative way Spike Lee portrayed the true story.

Even though the film itself is recommended for older audiences, both Ms. Mulhern and Sherley agree that it’s important for teens to experience this film. Ms. Mulhern says that “the film has to do with making sure a larger audience understands the issues that are still at the center of so many problems in our society.”

Sherley believes that the film is directed toward youth, despite its R rating.

“It’s very interesting and entertaining – it’s a comedy, drama – it has a lot of parts to it,” Sherley said. “In today’s society, if it’s not entertaining, you’re losing the audience.”

The end of the film particularly captured the severity of racial problems in America.

“At the end, they showed real footage of the Virginia Riots and how [race] is still a problem affecting us today,” said Emily Nigg ‘20. According to Nigg, the film brought the problems to life by including actual, incredibly hard-to-watch graphic footage from the Charlottesville protest in 2017.

Tray Alexander ‘20 had similar feelings.

“The movie was good! It spoke about black rights which is really relevant to today, “ he said, adding, “Recently there have been acts of police brutality toward black people. The movie really touched upon that.”

Blackkklansman proved to be an incredible success, not just on our hilltop, but as a phenomenon all over theaters across the United States. The events portrayed in the film not only exposes the injustices that occur all around us but reminds us not every major event lies within our textbooks.

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