Skip to main content

Doing the Right Thing

I've been immersed in the world of cinema the past few days. The 16th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival has been taking place in my hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois this week. Ashley & I have been to every festival since 2001. So many great movies have flashed across the screen of the Virginia Theatre during the long days of the festival over the years. Last night saw director Spike Lee host a screening of his 1989 classic Do the Right Thing. It was my first time watching the seminal film about race relations in America, and it definitely provided food for thought.

Perhaps it's unfair, but I use myself as a barometer of prejudice in America. The product of a black father and white mother, growing-up in a small Midwestern city and knowing people of different races and political persuasions all my life, it seems credible to say that I'd have a fairly broad outlook on all things prejudicial. Sadly, the results of both internal and external observations could be better.

The intervening 25 years since Do the Right Thing first arrived on the scene has witnessed the first non-caucasian President of the United States, but how far have we really come? During the Q&A after last night's screening, it was obvious that Spike Lee had been irritated with critics who'd lamented the riotous destruction of Sal's Pizzeria, while saying little or nothing about how the police had killed Radio Raheem. I found myself seeing his point, although what of Raheem nearly choking the life out of Sal only moments before the police pulled him off?

The fact that I consider excuses for the whites/Italians in the film gives me pause. It doesn't help that this comes on the heels of my reading about a Minnesota man on trial for murdering two teens who'd broken into his house. What stunned me was the reaction I had to seeing photos of the two teens. A guy and a girl, they were both white and preppy looking. 'Wait,'  I thought. 'What were they thinking? Were they really breaking-in? Maybe they were high, or confused?' The excuses raced, automatically, through my mind. The shaming thought then occurred that, if the teens had been black, I wouldn't have given their break-in a second thought. So it goes.

Also within the past week, a co-worker was very earnestly asking what I considered Ashley to be. "Do you call him your husband?" she asked, and I winced. She seemed confused. I fumbled for the correct words. Finally, I was honest, and remarked that it seemed odd to me for two men to refer to each other as husbands. Yes, I actually thought and said that. Me, a gay man, an advocate for gay rights and marriage equality! Perhaps it is a generational thing, growing-up during a time when being gay got my ass kicked? Regardless, it was a prejudiced thing to think and say.

There are other examples out there, some I'm too ashamed to admit in this public forum, but, there you go. A bi-racial gay man is capable of both racial prejudice and backwards thinking on marriage equality (to an extent). And if I'm that way, then it stands to reason that others are, too (and even worse). Instead of denying it, however, I acknowledge these shortcomings, and continually work to improve upon them. When we all acknowledge that none of us are perfect, that we all bring our own life experience and shortcomings to the table, only then can we better ourselves.

Perhaps that's what doing the right thing is all about?


Popular posts from this blog


Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....

1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night

It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

The Best Superhero Movies of All-Time, Revisited

We are just a few days away from the North American release of Avengers:Infinity War. While I am dutifully going to see it opening night, it's not a film I'm looking forward to. It is (spoiler) part one of two, which means we can expect plenty of plot threads left dangling when the credits roll. In other words, part two will probably be better, and provide some actual resolution. Also, Thanos looks like a CGI yawn-fest. Hopefully, I'll be proved wrong.
Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity to rank (again) the major superhero movies (Marvel and otherwise) that we've had so far. As you know, I love making a list, and this one is going to be a definitive one! If you don't see a film on here, it's because I haven't seen it (the first two Thors, Iron Man 2, some of the X-Men features, etc.).   Alright, here we go.

Walk and Chew Gum

Yesterday marked a touchstone moment in the U.S., as students across the country participated in "walkouts." This was an occasion for students to express an array of thoughts and emotions, ranging from a desire for stricter gun control, to simply sorrow over the loss of so many of their peers to school shootings. They were peaceful protests, but protests nonetheless. Where you're at on the spectrum of agreeing or disagreeing with what they did may vary, though not wanting to get shot in your school seems pretty reasonable to me.
Some folks have taken to sharing a meme on social media platforms this week -- in direct anticipation and response to the walkouts -- that encourages students to "walk up, not out." Following are suggestions provided for the walk ups:

Walk UP to the kid who sits ALONE and ask him to join your groupWalk UP to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hersWalk UP to your teachers and thank them!Walk UP to someone and JUST …