The film, ‘Get Out’ & denigrate to deter

I do my best thinking while mowing my lawn (in my humble opinion). A few days ago was no exception. I was thinking about the film, “Get Out” – a 2017 American horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. In particular, I was thinking about the auction scene where a white audience was bidding on black bodies to acquire and to exploit (just Google, “Get Out Auction Scene”). Then my mind took me down another corridor to something that a speaker said that explains something I unconsciously do (correction: something that many African American parents unconsciously do). This speaker, Dr. Joy DeGruy, said this while speaking at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) during a Black History Month event: “our ancestors often denigrated their kids in order to deter a white slave master.” What did she mean? When a white slave owner spotted a young vibrant and strong African American male, the mom might quickly say, “He is shiftless, lazy, and irresponsible.” She was publicly denigrating him to deter the white slave master from taking and exploiting her son for his financial benefit/gain. Sometimes this worked; many times it didn’t. When people praise my son, I often quip, “He is a knucklehead.” Although I say this with some humor, this practice, nonetheless, is a form of denigrating him. Again, I thought about the film, “Get Out.” In this film, Black bodies are kidnapped and their brains are swapped for the brains of white folks because the involuntary Black donor possessed some skill or ability.

This film communicates at least two important facts: (1) there has been abuse and exploitation of the Black body for centuries (today it takes the form of police brutality, mass incarceration, etc.); and (2) no one served to denigrate the Black brothers and sisters in this film to deter a white person from taking and abusing their black bodies.  In other words, justice was absent. This film eerily imitates the existential reality of many Blacks today. (This film made an impact on me as you can see and I viewed it in March 2017.)


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