Personal column: “Get Out” and racism

Hallie O'Rourke, Editor-in-Chief

The release of Jordan Peele’s debut horror film “Get Out” has sparked some controversy, and almost exclusively from the white demographic. Opponents to the film claim that it portrays white people as racist and that the picture as a whole is anti-white. Sentiments like these came as a surprise to me, especially in a world where racism against black people and other people of color continues to reign rampant. Yes, the movie was about racism, but not toward white people. The purpose of the film is to highlight the systematic racism that is ever-present in our society.

The film begins with a black man, Chris, portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya, visiting the family of his white girlfriend, Rose, portrayed by Allison Williams, for the first time. At first, everything seems normal, but there is an undertone of discomfort throughout. Be it Rose’s father’s poor attempt at slang or his forced enthusiasm of former President Barack Obama, it seems like this family is trying to prove themselves to be liberal and supportive of their African American counterparts.

This is later revealed to be quite the opposite, thus sparking criticism from white people nation-wide.

Here’s the thing: although a white family is portrayed as racist in this film, this is not a new, nor entirely false stereotype. This may be a harsh reality to some, but it is the reality that we all live in regardless of our awareness of it. Additionally, black people have been portrayed as drug addicts, gangsters and thugs for decades in the film industry. A movie calling out white people for their internalized racism should not be as big of a shock as it is. “Get Out” creatively constructed a horror movie in which the monster, racism, is all too real and relevant.

In addition, another cry from my white peers as of late has been that they are victims of a so-called “reverse racism.” As a white female myself, I find this to be ridiculous. Albeit people of other races can be rude to white people, but they do not have the societal upper hand over this demographic that white people have over every minority. Since people first realized there are different colors of skin, white people have held the power. This is where racism originated from: power in the hands of one race unfairly held over races that are different than theirs. Being rude or calling a white person crude names is prejudice and a detriment, but it is not racist.

The point I’m trying to make isn’t that it’s okay to be cruel to white people; rather, my point is to illustrate the difference between racism and prejudice, a difference many cannot discern. It may seem unimportant, but this is a very essential distinction to make. Racist people can only be those who come from the demographic which holds the power. And, in our society, this demographic is consistently white.

I am very happy and lucky to live in a country and society which respects a diverse group of people, yet I recognize that issues still exist. Racism in our society certainly isn’t cured, and a film which brings attention to this issue could be a step forward in solving this problem. One of the first ways to solve a societal issue is to bring attention to it, be it through tweets, protests or movies. With an increase in these measures of attention, racism has been the topic of hot debate and scrutiny.

In a world filled with political correctness and hatred, it’s important to remember that certain individuals can be different from you, and that recognizing these differences is advantageous to growing as a person and a society.