By: The Reverend Andrena Ingram, Pastor at St. Michaels Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, PA
I have spent a few days thinking about “The Butler”. For me, it was an awesome movie. I have been thinking about persons who stated that they “cried through the whole movie”, and wondering if perhaps I missed something – because I didn’t. I mean, I had a few “heart tugs”. I felt tears welling up a few times. But I didn’t *cry*. If anything, the movie for me was a joyful one…I rejoiced at the end.
It cleared up so many things for me. I was able to visually and mentally remember exactly where I was when certain events happened throughout THOSE painful things occurred. I was able to calculate how old I was, and marvel at the things that were going on around me, of which I had no idea. Was it ignorance? I think not. In the midst of my parents dysfunction, I marveled at what they had been through…and kept away from us as we were growing up. Seeing the “Soul Train’ clips, really bought that home for me. I had no idea what was going on, during that time, AT that time.
Being bussed outside of my district, into white schools was not pleasant – things became a little clearer for me then, that there indeed was something wrong – we were at the tail end of it. Even going to the movies in West Virginia, and being made to sit in the balcony, my sister and I didn’t find anything wrong with it. We thought it was fun. Until we returned and told my father and he walked us back to the theater, paid another admission, and we all sat downstairs. I had no clue as to what was going on.
ALL of the relationships touched me. Father/sons – mother/sons. All seeing things from a different perspective – and how it all came together at the end. At times I felt as though I was in my house when my parents and their friends and relatives came over, I could see a lot of those characters in my house growing up, even spending my summers down south. I can only imagine the pride my grandmother/grandfather must’ve felt owning their own home – imagining the things they had gone through. I can imagine the feeling of accomplishment my own mother and father had when they moved into their own house in Queens, in what WAS at the time, an all white neighborhood. Of course, “folks” began moving out, when “we” started moving in.
This movie put it all in perspective for me…chronologically and historically. The things that went on inside of the White House? Amazing.
I didn’t cry through the whole movie. I suppose because the difficult parts of the movie – the civil rights demonstrations – the Freedom Riders, etc…have been ingrained in my head, when I came of age. Those images are very familiar. I intend on seeing it again, and purchasing it, when it comes out on DVD.
No, I didn’t cry through that movie. I cry now.
I cry for the continuance of outright blatant instances and subtleties of racism, for the injustices in the world, for misuse of power and authority, for systematic oppression, and institutionalized buffoonery.
We shall overcome, we have overcome, and we ARE overcoming. Rejoice.