“Get Out” was by all means a monumental success. Jordan Peele’s brain child was well thought out, well written, and well acted. Its cinematography was top notch, and the music just added to the effect. It made for one crazy, intense, thrilling, terrifying ride that we are were prepared for, but were taken aback by.
For some of us with more melanin than others, there was something that made the film all the more horrifying for us: something about it was all too familiar. On this campus, after a photo was posted on Snapchat with two students wearing charcoal face masks, captioned ‘Happy Black History Month’, many of our students are even more aware of racially charged topics. For some students, this movie was simply a good film, or a short window into a world that was not theirs. But the themes in this movie were no accident, and deserve to be mentioned, for the benefit of the campus for and those who inhabit it. So let’s dive in.
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO HAVE THE FILM SPOILED FOR YOU, STOP READING NOW.
The first instance of inequality happens pretty early in the movie, and is the most easily recognized. After hitting a deer, a police officer shows up on the scene to assist Rose and Chris. The officer is talking to Rose about the incident, which is perfectly normal. However, the officer then turns his attention to Chris and demands his ID, even though he was not the driver of the car. Chris is willing to comply to have the ordeal end quickly, but after some resistance from Rose, the officer quickly decides the matter is not worth pursuing and leaves the scene.
This scene does not need much explaining, but it is worth mentioning. This was clearly an example of racial profiling, as the officer assumed that Chris must have done something due to the fact that he was African-American. The only saving grace was that he had a white woman on his side to advocate for him, whom the officer viewed as more credible, even though she was the one who hit the deer. If you think this is merely a plot point in the movie and that it is exaggerated, it’s actually much worse in real life. In 2016, the Department of Justice published a report on the city of Baltimore, detailing rampant injustices, including widespread instances of racial profiling. For instance, black residents of the city constituted 95% of the 410 individuals in the 5 and half years of the data gathered. Unfortunately, there was no “Rose” for them when they needed it, though they shouldn’t needed one in the first place.
“Being a Black Speck in a Sea of White”
When Chris is at the party thrown by Rose’s parents, the lack of other African-Americans is more prevalent than at any other point in the movie. When he sees “Logan”, he becomes visibly more relaxed, only to be shocked when something is off with him.
This is very common for many of our students of color on this campus. In fact, our university shares an acronym with many other institutions, known as PWI or Predominantly White Institution. This leads to feelings of isolation, leading to fear, resentment, and anger in many students.
Another telling exchange is when Chris mentions to Georgina that being around so many white people can make it hard for a black person to feel comfortable or speak their mind. For a second, Georgina’s face changes into a look of torment. Then, with tears in her eyes, she adamantly refutes his claims and states that she feels perfectly comfortable.
Once again, to many, this scene may just be a foreshadowing of something being truly wrong in this neighborhood. But a closer look shows a much realer problem. For many students of color attending PWIs, the ability to truly speak their mind on what they or how they feel is silenced by the urgings of their white counterparts to “stop seeing race”, to not rock the boat or make waves. It eliminates the validity of feelings students have, which makes the campus an unsafe place for them mentally.
Dismissing Accounts of Racism as Paranoia
Before meeting her parents, Chris confides in Rose that he is concerned about the trip, worried that they may be not as accepting as she believes them to be. However, Rose laughs his worries off, chalking them up to mere paranoia. However, it is not until Chris is put in a headlock by her brother that she sees that something is amiss.
This is something that many non-people of color, or POCs, have done to students of color, even up to the administrative level. Like previously stated, by denying the validity feelings of students of color on this campus, the campus becomes an unsafe place for them. Just because you may not see the problem or the problem does not apply to you does not negate the fact that the problem exists.
There are numerous instances of this in “Get Out”. Here’s a short list:
- Slang used by Rose’s father in Chris’s presence and never used when he is not around. (“Thang”, “My Man”)
- Mentioning that Rose’s father would have “voted for Obama for a third term”.
- Comments about Chris’s genetic makeup, referring to him as a “beast” or asking what Chris’s sport is.
- The ENTIRE party scene.
These are just a quick overview of some of the offensive instances Chris must go through over the course of the film. These are also textbook instances of enforcing stereotypes and microaggressions.
For those not familiar, microaggressions are defined as “a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.” This can take the form of assuming that an African-American is adept at playing basketball, an Asian-American student is good at math, or asking a Lantinx or another student of non-caucasian heritage “where are you from?” This takes place daily, and is mostly unconscious. However, to be truly inclusive, one must be aware of what they say and do in relation to those around them.
One of the many good things about this film is there is a TON of replay value, which means there are themes replayed in case they are missed the first go around. Do yourself, and peers of color, a favor and go see it. Analyze it and apply it to your life. And if you’ve seen it before, see it again.