Updated: Sep 23, 2019
By Shayler Richmond
The prescreening of “BlackkKlansman,” a film directed by Spike Lee, starring John David Washington was hosted at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Aug. 4 and included dialogue with Spike Lee (left) and John David Washington (right).
We see an increase in the production of films around Black culture; since slavery the possession of Black culture has been sought after; today Blackness is commercially marketable and how and who are telling our stories matters.
The audience was engaged in the film all the way through. Directly following the credits, Spike Lee and John David Washington sat on the stage fielding questions from the audience.
The pair was asked, how do consumers, curators and producers of art help to ensure Black stories are told authentically.
“Let’s start with talking about the truth. This country [America] was built on racism and genocide. If we can’t talk about that then there’s nothing to talk about,” said Lee.
Art is often created to make a statement, convey a message, or tell a story. Lee was asked to explain the role he plays in protecting an authentic Black narrative.
He replied, “we have to control the narrative. We must be empowered. We have to own our own stuff and run our own stuff.”
Lee reflected on some of the art he has produced, such as “Do the Right Thing” in 1889, and “School Daze” in 1988, which both had applicable themes to the discussion of art and the political climate.
The first line of “Do the Right Thing”, is “wake up” spoken by Laurence Fishburne, and the last line of “School Daze” is “wake up” spoken by Samuel L. Jackson. Lee related “wake up” from those films to being consciously “woke”.
“Right and wrong do not have a race or color. We need coalitions from all sides to come together and work toward what is good. It’s not just a black and white thing,” said Lee.
The story of police officer Ron Stallworth will live on; the film brings an important story full circle, while tying in social issues of today.
Lee and Washington shared their optimistic views of positive change being fueled by our strong sense of community.
“I feel like I’ve done my job if I can inspire one person to take action,” said John David Washington.
"BlackkKlansman," hits theaters August 10th, 2018.