A couple of days ago I was flicking through the channels on my TV and I ran across one of my favorite films of all time, School Daze. It came out in 1988 and it was written and directed by outspoken and controversial director, Spike Lee. This was Spike’s 2nd major film and it has proven to be equally as controversial and powerful as his next feature, Do The Right Thing. Some of Spike’s most famous films always have the reoccurring theme of race relations. It’s no secret that he’s my idol and I want to follow his blueprint, at least when it comes to his style of filming. Not sure if I’ll go the same route as far as the films he put out, I guess it depends on what’s clicking for me in my creative process. Most of his films deal with race relations within the Black, Italian, and Hispanic communities. It normally deal with how each community reacts with each other, and of course there will always be some sort of race war involved. School Daze is no different except for one thing, it’s Black vs. Black. I know what you’re thinking, “How is that possible?” Well, it’s easy. Just like what’s going on in America right now with this so called “class warfare”, that’s exactly what exists within the Black community.
|Dap & Julian finally realize the error of their ways.|
School Daze features an all-star cast lead by Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, and Spike Lee himself. It took place at a fictional historically black college (HBCU). The students at the school were divided because of their environment. You had your upper echelon types who were raised in good two parent homes. Then there were the street smart rebel types who were always protesting injustice and inequality. It was natural that both sides were going to class. The fraternities and sororities consist of the privileged students. The rebels on the other hand were against it because the frat brothers and soror sisters only allowed people who were like them. So the main theme of the film had to do with class warfare, and I seriously suggest you check it out if you haven’t. While the film is fictional and not based on any real life events, it holds a lot of truth to it because I’ve seen it happened.
Up until college, I’ve been surrounded by African American and other minority classmates throughout my school career. In high school, there were about four classmates who were Caucasian, but other than their appearance you couldn’t really tell. They blended in with the rest of us. I remember coming up in elementary school, I’d say around the 1st grade was when the boys really started to see the girls in another light. Sadly enough, in our view at the time light skinned girls were considered pretty, while dark skinned weren’t. Then you’ve had your in-between (medium brown) who could go either way. It’s horrible, I know and I’m ashamed for even feeling that way at the time, but that’s how it was earlier in my life. I wouldn’t necessarily call it class warfare because in School Daze, there were dark and light skinned students on either side. Matter of fact, I don’t know what the correct term is. Let’s just say Black-on-Black Racism. Either way, it’s cruel and demeaning. Due to the fact that the light skinned girls were receiving a great deal of attention, it created animosity with the dark skinned girls.
In elementary and middle school most problems and fights were caused by “he say, she say”. This was no different, except most of the tension was created by those who were jealous of others. A lot of the dark skinned girls got the crazy idea that the light skinned ones thought that they were better than them just because they received more attention from the guys. Sure, we paid attention to some of them as well, but it’s true that a lot of us were infatuated with those of lighter complexion. It’s not fair, but that’s how it was. So they would create rumors and thus fights would occur, more violent than the guys. When it came to guys whether dark or light, it didn’t matter much to us, we got along. The girls on the other hand, World War III anyone?
I remember seeing newscasts back in the day about the increasing teen violence amongst female students going on around the city of Detroit. For the most part, girls would form cliques. Not all, but a great deal of those cliques consist of dark skinned on one side vs. light skinned on the other. It was getting out of hand. Some fights had resulted in some girls getting seriously injured or worse. It leads me to wonder how did we get to this. Is craving a guy or two’s attention really worth it? How would you think your ancestors would feel if they were still alive today? Most of them were hosed, beaten, raped, and killed just for you to be able to feel a sense of freedom. The fact that we’re fighting and killing each other so viciously diminishes what they’ve accomplished. The reasons why we’re fighting makes it even worse. Wake up Black America!
It’s been said time and time again, and I’m going to say it again, we’re the most divided group of people in America. Of course everyone fights each other, but it’s more apparent with us. It became an everyday occurrence that it’s no longer deemed important on the evening news. It became maybe the 3rd, 4th, and 5th story now because it became a “heard it all, seen it all before” scenario. Our reasons for doing so are beyond dumb. Because someone’s light skinned, you’re going to pick a fight with him/her? Because someone’s dark skinned, you’re going to pick a fight with him/her? Because someone stepped on your shoes, you’re going to pick a fight with him/her? See how dumb it looks in text? It’s even dumber when you actually do it. Straight up people before it’s too late.
I love my people, I love everyone. I hate what we’re doing, and fear that it’s become a never ending cycle. I understand that some conflicts can’t be ignored, but I wish that people were smart enough to not take it to the next level. If one side wants to act stupid, let them act stupid. Fighting stupidity with stupidity will result in more stupidity. It’s time to rise above this my people. Teach love, not hate. Console, not condemn. If you like someone, then just don’t bother with that person. It’s as simple as learning ABC’s.