By Raynard Jackson
I was flipping through the TV channels last week and came across one of Spike Lee’s best movies, School Daze. This was a 1988 film written and directed by Lee. The movie took an inside look at some of the internal issues that go on within the Black community—issues like dark skinned Blacks versus light skinned Blacks; Blacks that have “good” hair versus Blacks with “nappy” hair; Blacks from wealthy families versus Blacks from poor families. The movie was funny and serious at the same time. I always say that comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.
The movie’s setting takes place on the fictional Black college campus of Mission College. Lee’s concept for the movie was based on his experiences he had as a student at Morehouse College, as well as his interactions with students from Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Spelman and Morehouse are predominately occupied by children of the Black elite. They are all located in Atlanta.
The movie received critical acclaim and was a financial success. But it created a firestorm because the elite Blacks did not take well to criticism of their disdain of Blacks who were not part of their clique—just ask Bill Cosby.
Though the school in the movie was named Mission College, it was actually shot on the campuses of Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta. But, because of the movie’s portrayal of the Black bourgeoisie, Lee was forced to stop filming on those campuses and was barred from being invited to speak on their campuses after the movie was released. He was forced to complete his filming at nearby Morris Brown College, a lesser known Black college that was not known to have many people from wealthy backgrounds.
Not much has changed in the 25 years since the release of School Daze. As a matter of fact, one could argue that this schism within the Black community has gotten worse.
This view is personified in the person of President Barak Obama. He is light skinned, has no connection with the Black community, Ivy League educated, and seems very uncomfortable around Blacks who are not part of the bourgeoisie.
He is more comfortable talking about Newtown than he is Chi-town (Chicago). He hangs with the likes of Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Hill Harper to give him “street cred.”
Yet, he ignores the very issues that gave birth to the Hip-Hop nation—police brutality, Black on Black crime, teenage pregnancy, the glorification of the drug culture, etc.
The Blacks that have regular access to this White House rarely, if ever, lift their voices to address some of the needs and concerns of those who can’t afford to raise thousands of dollars for the president.
These Blacks have not once criticized the Obama administration’s lack of action in regards to the issues of particular concern to the Black community. Oh, I forgot, they don’t want to jeopardize their invitations to the White House’s Christmas party.
These Blacks rationalize that Obama can’t afford to be seen doing anything specifically for Blacks for fear that Obama will be called a Black president. Well, I thought he was the first Black president?
So, let me make sure I understand this; it’s ok to do specific things for the Black bourgeoisie—private invitations to the White House, rides on Air Force One, private movie screenings at the White House, but he can’t do things specifically to address the high unemployment rate in the Black community?
Lee’s movie has quite an emotional, but yet powerful ending. Laurence Fishburne, one of the main actors in the movie, awakens from his sleep (along with the rest of the cast) and meets in the middle of the campus with his pajamas on. Then he screams several times at the top of his voice, “W-A-K-E UP.”
Unfortunately, under Obama, the Black bourgeoisie have yet to wake up.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.