I’m proud to say that I’ve finally joined the masses of people blown away by comedic mastermind Jordan Peele’s thriller Get Out. I’ve never been a horror movie fan but from the time I saw the trailer, I knew that it wasn’t going to be the typical stab and slash flick. From the beginning of the film, it was obvious why Get Out motivated so many Black people to theaters. It resonated with us on a level that teeters between real-life dangers and urban myths.
While interracial dating isn’t as taboo as it used to be, most Black folks have still gotten the warning from elders about being alone with all them white folks. I can remember being invited to have a few beers with white in-laws and thinking there’s no way I’m going to be by myself in the deep South with a bunch of drunk White folks. That’s how n****s come up missing! Get Out plays to that exact fear and apparently there’s a hell of a lot of Black people who got the same warnings growing up.
What Get Out did, in addition to creeping us out was open up a conversation about our deep-seated fears about interracial relationships. Sure our white friends may be down for the swirl but what about their parents and the communities they come from? Our history has shown us time and time again that while most of us can at the least tolerate a potential non-Black family member, there still is a sense of physical danger when it comes to being a potential non-White family member.
I love the fact that my own son gets to play and learn with kids of diverse races. If, when he gets older, he chooses to date someone who isn’t Black, it won’t bother me a bit. At the same time, being cautious about being “strung up” because of his skin color won’t be an off-the-table conversation.
Get Out is an extreme, fictional tale but it’s still based in the bizarre and psychotic winds of white wrath. It’s fine to fall in love with whomever you want but bear in mind there still exists in our supposed post-racial society the belief that a drop of Black blood will somehow contaminate the pristine gene pool of non-Blacks. So much that it would drive some to spill that same Black blood in order to avoid–cue the dramatic music–a Black baby.
Since much the world has been duped into viewing negative Black stereotypes as fact, other concerns must be discussed, such as false rape accusations, Black fetishism, racial rebellion or just being the only Black person in the car or neighborhood at night.
I once read a comment on social media where a father told his son that his only job is to make it home safely. Any situation can be dealt with afterwards. I agree completely. I don’t care if my son has to uproot a bush and use it as a disguise to sneak to safety like in the cartoons, but whatever it takes, I want him to prioritize his safety in any situation. We can be hashtag social justice warriors when he gets his Black ass home.
Maybe Jordan Peele didn’t intend for it to get that deep when he made Get Out, but it so is. That depth along with being an entertaining film on its own, earned him that deserved box office win. Thanks for taking us past the “If they can’t use your comb, don’t bring them home” rhetoric and delivering a fun look at our own cultural fears – as ridiculous or as probable as they may be.
Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe, BET.com, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.