Movie Monday: Lee Daniels The Butler

z6-shoji-butler-interview-a-20140214.jpgThese are our stories. OUR stories. The Butler is based on a true story of the life of Eugene Allen who was a butler for over 30-years in the White House. This movie resonated with me from the opening scene. The scene is deep although not based on Eugene Allen’s real life. A young Cecil Gaines, his mother, played by Mariah Carey, and his father played by David Banner are taking a picture on the cotton fields of the deep south when suddenly his mother is raped by an overseer. Cecil encourages his father to speak up on his mother’s behalf. His father tries to address the rape but is shot dead on the spot by the crazed overseer in front of his young son. This scene illustrates so many things but what rings out to me most is the dehumanization of black lives. Our lives meant nothing back then and it hurt watching.

Ultimately Cecil’s mother goes crazy and Cecil is taken in by the Madame to be a house boy/ house slave, which sets the tone for his career. Cecil works hard and eventually lands a job in the White House as a butler, which he takes very seriously. Simultaneously he juggles being a husband and a father to his two young sons. One of his sons being a revolutionary who is deeply apart of the struggle for Civil Rights, a far cry from  Cecil’s temperament.

This movie tugged on my heartstrings for many reasons. For one, it does a great job with representing the times and the tones of the day, from Emmett Till’s death to the Civil Rights Movement, to the Black Panthers Movement, to the Apartheid struggle in South Africa, and it does it so well. Secondly, one of the most defining moments for me in the movie was Cecil finally coming into consciousness. He realized that after years of playing the “contented negro” he deserved more for his life and he needed to fight for it. This movie resonated with me in my own life. Never be afraid to demand what you want and never settle for a situation that you know you deserve more for. Always strive to be your very best self but also remain humble. Cecil was a humble and a hard working man and I admire his work ethic and his contribution. He broke barriers and paved the way for us which is a powerful thing.

This movie is currently playing on Netflix which is where I watched it if interested.

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Movie Monday: Selma

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Ava DuVernay! You did great work with this movie. The first 10-minutes captivated me. You see a well-dressed Martin uncomfortably receiving a Nobel Peace Prize award, but what comes next sets the tone for the whole movie. We are not sugar coating anything with this film are we? Its clear this movie is addressing the reality of black lives in the 1960s, south. Four little girls walking down their church steps, talking about things that these girls would most-likely be talking about and then the bomb goes off, and their pretty little shoes, their hair bows, their dresses, blown away like vapor. Their lives taken from them because of the brutal hatred for their black skin. This scene is followed by another very powerful scene with Oprah Winfrey attempting to gain her right to vote. We see how demeaning those voter registration tests were and it brought on the first of many tears in my eyes. Watching this movie, I had a cathartic cry. It was one of the most emotional tears I’ve ever shed, filled with pain and peace at the same time, I can’t describe it really but it was different. It was brought on by a scene where a black man trying to protect his mother and grand father was killed by police while protesting. I had to turn the movie off and just cry. This stuff really happened back then and it’s happening today, but why? Why are these senseless acts of violence so prevalent? Why is human life devalued so? Selma had an affect on me, and if you haven’t watched it as yet I encourage you to. Nothing that Martin Luther King did was in vein. He sacrificed his life so we could have the freedoms and liberties that we too often take advantage of.

Right now the movie is on Hulu, which is where I was able to watch it.

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