The film has been on HBO Max for about a month now. I knew watching it was gonna require courage, as historical dramas about Black pain and suffering only serve to make me angry. So, I avoided it as long as I could until I finally sat down to watch on the first Saturday in March.
And, as I figured, I got angry. Very angry.
I wasn?t angry at the acting or the story or the filmmaking process. I was angry at the reality that has not gone away 50 years later.
The thing that leapt off the screen for me as I watched: The SYSTEMIC racism. Emphasis on the word SYSTEMIC. I?m talking specifically those scenes within the FBI and their chessboard maneuvering.
Black mobilization is a threat. Always has been. Always will be. It?s why slaves couldn?t learn to read. It?s why the flame of Reconstruction was doused by Jim Crow. It?s why King, X, Medgar Evers, Fred Hampton and countless other Brothers and Sisters had their lives taken.
It?s why they label BLM as ?communist? and ?Marxist.? It?s why over 40 states are currently in the process of remixing voting laws – even drafting bills to make it illegal to serve food and water while standing in line for hours waiting to vote. 1969. 2021. Mobilization Is still a threat. And their greatest fear.
An IRRATIONAL fear.
J. Edgar Hoover in the film hypothetically asks Mitchell, the FBI agent handling Bill (Judas) O?Neal, what he?d do if his baby daughter brought home a Negro whom she was in love with. His point: Survival. Protection of their way of life. Fear of being conquered. Hoover?s words echoed the now famous Charlottesville Tiki Torch sentiment. Those marchers targeted Jews. But they could have inserted anyone in their war cry.
(WHOMEVER) WILL NOT REPLACE US!
REPLACE YOU? ???
For the record, we are not trying to replace Whites. We don?t want your throne. We don?t want your seats of honor. We don?t want your status or your authority. ?New World Order? is laughable to us. Marxist regimes are the furthest thing from our collective minds.
Fred Hampton, MLK, BLM are all fighting for the same sentiment – a sentiment best expressed by a Jay Z song title:
CAN I LIVE?
Can I work for a livable wage to raise my sons and daughters without restriction?
Can I go to my job wearing the hairstyle I want, speaking my normal dialect without having to codeswitch? Can I get the opportunities to advance in my field without those previously stated issues being an issue?
Can I go to church without having to assimilate into a White Evangelical approved form of Christianity that denies my true expression of who I am? Can I sing, shout, say AMEN, embrace my African heritage in my expression of faith without it being a threat?
Can I buy a house in the same neighborhood as you and you not feel so threatened that you engage in non-neighborly microaggressions insinuating that I am not welcome there? Can my house get the same appraised value attached to it even with my photos of my African American family of 5 framed on the walls?
Can I just get a ticket for speeding? Can I just walk home from a store? Can I just drive to my new job? Can I do ANYTHING that results in me just getting a write up instead of a toe tag at the morgue? And can my expression of righteous anger and frustration not require the use of deadly force because you see Black anger as a threat?
If I CHOOSE to love your daughter, Agent Mitchell, is that enough? Can I not be subjected to jests about how dark the baby?s skin color will be? If other family members express their racist thoughts about my presence in the family, will you defend me? Or will we be ostracized from your family – and our children lose their birthright – because we won?t ?play the game??
Replace you? No, White community. It?s never been about that. We just want to live. All we want is our modern day equivalent of that promised 40 acres and a mile and we?ll keep living. Some of us will live with you in our space. Some of us won?t. That?s our choice.
You have a choice too. Let Hoover?s fear consume you. Let the irrational horror of what we might do take over your hearts and minds. Continue to mangle Scripture for your own benefit.
Or?you can live. With us. Lose your fear. Lose your terror. Lose your life?and find it again like Jesus said. When you?re ready, our arms are wide open ready to live with you and love you.
Thank you Chairman Fred.
The film is available now on Digital and out on Blu-ray and DVD on May 4. The Blu-ray combo pack includes “Fred Hampton for the People” and “Unexpected Betrayal” as special features.