Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I love this: Real frickin progress

Via Ampersand, who got it from Ezra Klein:

Towards the end of the 1967 movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," Dr. John Wane Prentice, played by Sydney Poitier, sits down with his fiance's white father, played by Spencer Tracy. "Have you given any thought to the problems your children will have?" Tracy asks. "Yes, and they'll have some...[But] Joey feels that all of our children will be President of the United States," replies Poitier. "How do you feel about that?" asks Tracy, looking skeptically at the black man in front of him. "I'd settle for Secretary of State," Poitier laughs. More...

Written in the late-1960s, the exchange was, indeed, laughable. The Civil Rights Act had been passed three years prior. Two years before, the Watts riots had broken out, killing 35. Martin Luther King Jr. would be assassinated a year later. But here we are, almost exactly 40 years after theatergoers heard that exchange. The last two Secretaries of State were African-American and, as of tonight, the next president may well be a black man. John Prentice's children would probably still be in their late-30s. They could still grow up to be cabinet officials or even presidents, but they would not necessarily be trailblazers.

Tying movies to politics? Deborah Lipp: This is Your Life!

You know what? It's easy to look at the current climate of racism; the hatred of brown people as expressed by hostility towards immigration, religious prejudice disguised as fear of terrorism, comedians who say "n****r" and then say they aren't racist, Confederate flags flown with pride, comparisons of Barack Obama to a chimp or Curious George, conflation of all of it in the rank malificence that is the "Barack Hussein Obama" meme, to see all of that, and feel that pit in your stomach like, we've made no progress at all.

But by fucking golly, we have.

(Guess who's coming to cross-post?)