Three words: unfiltered, raw, and woke. It’s a biographical drama that aired on August 9th; directed by Spike Lee, written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee and based on the book by Ron Stallworth, The scenes, the character developments, the sarcastic/dark humor, and the in-between-the-line interpretations are more than enough to leave you like a deer in headlights. There are moments of silence so tense, they shake the audience.
Ron Stallworth, a Black undercover agent for the Colorado Springs PD, infiltrates a KKK Chapter alongside his fellow team members to reveal the hate under the hoods. Based on true events during the early 1970’s, Stallworth is able to truly fight racism by entering the most discriminating organization in the U.S. and being nominated as president, all while being a black man. Stallworth sends his colleague, Flip Zimmerman, a Jewish white policeman, to pretend to be him and get as much information from the KKK as possible so that they can protect the black community.
Flip never felt a black man’s prejudice before this investigation; he grew up in a Jewish family, but never truly acknowledged the background. The weight of the social label leads the character to face self-discoveries within the mayhem. Unlike him, Ron grew up well aware of his social identity in America but didn’t truly realize how much he could help his community until he heard an invited guest from Africa speak in a lowkey, Black Power rally full of college students.
A very shocking scene in the movie is when Flip is at the KKK ceremony with David Duke, the national leader of the KKK, and you can hear Duke say in the background “We’re gonna make America great again.” Recognize it much? There is also huge parallelism in this scene when the KKK members start shouting “white power” and it switches to a scene where the black community is screaming “black power”.
The parallel stories and historic events are, what we believe, the most important takeaways. Unironically, both elements lean towards the true root of the problem: the crippling education system. As Santayana’s emblem goes, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” We believe this movie is so well made because it visually represents our black history while connecting it with our history today. It really makes you ask yourself, have people really changed or have they just gotten good at hiding their discrimination against others?