Last night I read an article that complained that Captain America: The First Avenger did a disservice by not showing the US Army during WWII as segregated. And apparently the author of that article wasn’t alone. A few other people had that same problem. Some didn’t have as much of a problem with it and others were swimming in delusion by comparing it to a “whitewashing” of history just like A Birth of a Nation (No,I’m not kidding). Did it bother me? No. Why? Cause it’s a fictional comic book movie about a guy who takes a super soldier formula then fights a Nazi division called HYDRA. It’s not aiming to be historically accurate. There were a lot of things going on around WWII that the movie didn’t address: Women in the Military, The Holocaust, hell, even the Nazis kinda disappear from the movie about halfway through. If it makes people feel better, next time I see the movie I’ll calculate the white to black ratio. I’m pretty sure the ratio is close to 100 – 1. But my main reason for not minding that the army was shown as integrated? It’s a positive thing. I’m sorry, but I go to the theaters to watch movies to escape reality. Yeah I know that in reality the military was segregated and that black soldiers had to work twice as hard to succeed and earn the respect of their white counterparts. I get it. But you know what? I don’t mind Marvel Studios taking liberties to show me how “it should have been”. I get enough negativity in terms of racism in reality, sometimes I like to watch a movie that shows me that everyone is equal and entertains me. It doesn’t mean I don’t “Know my history”, it just means sometimes…just sometimes…I’m tired of being reminded of how fucked up the world was (and is). For example:
PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AR) – A high school southeast of Little Rock would not let a black student be valedictorian though she had the highest grade-point average, and wouldn’t let her mom speak to the school board about it until graduation had passed, the graduate claims in Federal Court.
Kymberly Wimberly, 18, got only a single B in her 4 years at McGehee Secondary School, and loaded up on Honors and Advanced Placement classes. She had the highest G.P.A. and says the school’s refusal to let her be sole valedictorian was part of a pattern of discrimination against black students.
Wimberly says that despite earning the highest G.P.A. of the Class of 2011, and being informed of it by a school counselor, “school administrators and personnel treated two other white students as heir[s] apparent to the valedictorian and salutatorian spots.”
Wimberly’s mother is the school’s “certified media specialist.” She says in the federal discrimination complaint that after her daughter had been told she would be valedictorian, the mother heard “in the copy room that same day, other school personnel expressed concern that Wimberly’s status as valedictorian might cause a ‘big mess.’” (Source)
See, this is why Captain America didn’t bother me. Cause reality blows. A co-valedictorian because a black girl actually had the highest GPA? It would “create a big mess”? Really? Why? Would white students and parents riot because a black girl was the sole valedictorian? Well, it is a predominately white school. Maybe the black student population is so small that it wou….wait….
McGehee Secondary School is predominantly white, and 46 percent African-American, according to the complaint.
So almost half the student population is black but yet a black valedictorian would be a “big mess”? I don’t really even have words for this shit. That fact that it’s 2011 and the administrator and faculty of a school thought this was appropriate is depressing.
Yes…it’s depressing. There, I said it. Racial realities in 2011 are still depressing. Are things better than they were? Absolutely. Are we as far along as we should be? NO. So when a fictional movie comes out and it shows an intelligent black man fighting in WWII beside white soldiers and he’s not being called a “nigger” or “colored” or treated any differently, I enjoy it. Why? Because its an escape from reality. It shows what should be not what is (or was). Some of us need that. Not because we don’t know our history or because we want to forget it. No, we need it because we see stories like the one above happening every day in reality. Hell, some thought the election of the first Black President would usher in a new era of post-racialism. Instead we got a new heightened sense of just how far we have to go to bridge the gap. We face an economic crisis that is hitting blacks the hardest. We see the rise of a fringe group on the Right that seems to be attacking any program that could be of benefit to blacks and the poor. Hell, we even have a contender for the 2012 Presidency come out and call a settlement for Black Farmers “Wasteful spending”. It’s exhausting and depressing.
Look. No one is trying to forget where we came from. Most of us know. But a lot of people view entertainment as an escape from reality. Some of us need that to keep our sanity. Cause Lord knows I would lose my shit if I had no escape from a reality where a black girl in 2011 being valedictorian could be a “big mess”. Here’s the thing. If you can suspend reality enough to believe that a secret formula can turn a 90 lbs asthmatic with no combat experience into an ass kicking Super Solider or that Nazis used a “cosmic cube” to power futuristic weapons during WWII or that Steve Rogers, Super Solider or not, can crash land a plane in the Arctic AND SURVIVED after being frozen for 70 years…why is it so hard to suspend reality and see black & white soldiers fighting together during WWII? Is racial equality such a foreign concept that we’ll take completely made up comic book scenarios over seeing blacks & whites fighting side by side in WWII with no racial tension? Sorry, but I can’t get to that level.