After hearing all the media chatter this past week about Tagg Romney, his supposed urge to swing at President Obama and white privilege, I had to stop and rethink my opinion of Janks Morton’s new documentary, “HOODWINKED.” The film, which initially left me quite discouraged because I thought it to be overly simplistic, encourages African-Americans to create positive stories of achievement and not subscribe to the plethora of negative statistics, news stories and stereotypes often repeated in the media.
Just as some whites are beginning to accept the fact that white privilege exists in America, I now believe a growing socioeconomic divide exists within the African-American community. A Pew Research Center study speaks to this. For example, my husband and I who grew up in two drastically different environments left the theatre with decidedly different impressions of the film.
My husband, raised in poverty by a single mother who took no interest in supplementing his basic education, thought the film could serve as a conversation starter for young black men working to build productive lives without the benefit of much parental guidance. I, being raised by two educated parents who surrounded me with positive images and messages of African-American achievement, had an extremely hard time believing some still buy into the classic societal pigeonholing that has been in place since slavery.
I now think Morton’s integration of interviews with esteemed black (and all male) educators, fictional cable newscasts, a statistics lecture and other scenarios into the film provide just enough credibility and humor to drive home several key facts and reach the desired audience. He keeps you entertained long enough to illustrate, and subsequently debunk, many long-standing myths about African-Americans.
That said, I tend to agree with noted professor, author and TV host Dr. Marc Lamont Hill who said the black community has larger issues to contend with than reinterpreting statistics. In my opinion, the alarming lack of self-esteem, in both black men and women, is one of them. Conversations about black achievement are fine, but success without possessing a healthy sense of self and purpose is hollow. It’s time to do more than just talk.