Post-Racial Pawn in RichWiteMan War Game?-Red Tails- A PNN ReVieWsforTheReVoLution

Tiny - Posted on 21 January 2012

"Watch the rest of the Movie and find out..." At one point in Red Tails, a new movie on the racist-silenced histories and herstories of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought fearlessly and artfully in World War II, one of the airmen questioned the point of "fighting for the Man" in a society where white supremacy refuses to accept a "Negro war hero". The character of his superior officer, played by Cuba Gooding Jr, retorts, that we do live in this racist reality and that fighting well in this war won't change any of that, ending with the fact that we should keep watching the movie.

Red Tails is a shiny, Hollywood movie with an all-star cast of beautiful and strong African descendent men like Terrence Howard who delicately navigates the cake-walk of hegemony with frightening white men in power in the military industrial complex of the 1940's. There is a "lite" and yet real story of alcohol abuse and finally, a mixed race story of love between one of the air-men and an Italian woman he encounters.  All of these story-lines are squeezed into the middle of compelling air-fighting scenes with old-school planes in the air and one comical "gerry" (German) character who does battle with the airmen.

Red Tails opens with the brutality of white supremacy with a 1925 "report" by the U.S. Army War College which outlined why blacks should not be soldiers; claiming that they were not just inferior, but also incapable of operating complex machinery.

The brutality of this racist dis-respect and hate is all the more insane as we watch the calculated skill of the airmen in different flight scenes throughout the movie and find out that they were in fact all trained in complex aeronautical engineering at the Tuskegee Institute founded by Booker T Washington. This juxtaposition should shock us and yet for all conscious folks living within the plantation called United Snakkkes of Amerikkka we are all too familiar with it and instead we wait with trepidation to see more hate un-fold. And then something funny happens. Because of the Tuskegee airmen's  brilliant skill in "protecting" the white men who pilot the "bomber"  planes, they are thanked and respected when before they were beaten up and called the N word with impunity.

I can't completely discount this movie. Even if i want to, racism is too complicated and stereotypes and Hollywood are too powerful and pervasive. Instead i have to dissect it, recognizing the urgent need of African descendent peoples in diaspora and all peoples everywhere, to see a Black male hero depicted in film that isn't some derivative of a gangster or a pimp. That these well-educated, conscious young men had skill and leadership, but because it wasn't prudent to have a Black hero on the cover of the Hearst Corporation owned papers of the day, they were never appreciated, heard or seen and finally ask the question, have we as African peoples, peoples of color "arrived" because we are hero's in a war movie. Remember folks, we are in a allegedly post-racial society, where everyone can become a pimp or a president, so why not a war hero?. And the covert military industrial complex isn't even covert anymore with training movies for the Navy Seals coming to a theatre near you soon. I just have to wonder what Muhammad Ali circa 1967 who said, No Viet Cong ever called me a "nigger" might say to this new black army hero.

Remember, to truly "arrive" in our Afro-centrism, Indigenity and power, while moving to plantation and pimp-free living, it can't be through "the Man's" false borders, fake wars and empire -fueled land theft and drone-filled fights or like my African/Boricua mama used to say, "We aint ever reaching liberation on their dime." It must be through the creation of our own self-determined futures, villages, economies, realities and heroes.


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