BlacKkKlansman (2018)

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Berber Street Food
West Village, New York

“The cous cous was fluffy, the lamb was tender and perfectly spiced and the veggies were very flavorful.”
“This little nook of a restaurant is located in West Village, and the owner serves up tasty fusion dishes influenced by a range of cuisines from African countries such as Morocco, Senegal, and Nigeria.
I recommend starting with the accara. These black-eyed pea fritters were perfectly spiced, and I loved the chunky and flavorful tomato, onion, and lemon zest sauce they came with.”
“There’s alot of unique yet subtle flavors in the dishes. I had an Afro Fusion bowl with tumeric rice, seasonal vegetables, black eye pea stew, and backyard jerk chicken.”


Black Stories Film Series #24:

“BlacKkKlansman” (2018) is a gutsy and hysterical crime comedy based on the true story of the African American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado in the late 1970s. Lee built his script from Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir “Black Klansman” where he wrote about his experiences as the first Black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department.

In 1979, Stallworth noticed a classified ad in the local newspaper calling for members to start a new chapter of the KKK in Colorado Springs. After responding to the ad via mail to a P.O. box, a member returned his request through the phone and quickly, upon answering, Stallworth posed as a racist white man who “hated blacks, Jews, Mexicans, and Asians.” He learned that the man was founding a new chapter near Fort Carson, and Stallworth orchestrated that a fellow white officer, with a wire, stood in for conversations. Due to the success of the brigade, Stallworth continued to pose as a member for nine more months, sending the white officer to meet with members face-to-face when necessary. At one point, Stallworth even phoned David Duke, who was the “Grand Wizard” of the “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” at the New Orleans headquarters. Duke personally signed and sent Stallworth’s Klan certificate of membership in the mail, which Stallworth proudly framed and hung on the wall of his office for years. After the close of the investigation, he kept his infiltration a secret and never spoke about his role in it for over 20 years. He eventually wrote his memoir to recount his incredible tale. The 1970’s infiltration’s across police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation supremely slowed the KKK’s terrorist activities, though there are versions of modern white supremacists and KKK sympathizers still today.

Ron Stallworth is portrayed by John David Washington, who is the son of Denzel Washington and a former football running back. He has had on and off experience working in film, but this was his first lead role, and he gives a magnetic and effortless performance. The film also allows for Adam Driver to deliver a soft spoken, introspective and natural performance as Flip Zimmerman, Stallworth’s Jewish co-worker who is sent to the meetings in his place. His passivity about the organization is challenged, and he is forced to reckon with his white passing complacency and lack of attention to his own Jewish heritage through the disconcerting meetings.

Stallworth, while attending Black Revolution meetings undercover, develops a relationship with the vehement Patrice (Laura Harrier), and Lee uses this dynamic to explore the disgruntled relationship between the black community and the cops, and even more complicated, black cops. Patrice, for example, refers to all cops as “pigs,” and Stallworth – even while undercover – refuses to do the same.  But Lee layers commentary into so many aspects of this film that it is difficult to even touch on them all. He addresses the objectification of black men and women, while still grossly dehumanizing them, when he has one of the Klan members spout, “But they can dance. I’ll give em’ that.” He also addresses the way that White supremacists can still express adoration for a specific black person in their life, without that meaning that they view that person with the same dignity as themselves. This is directly called out in a reference to “Mamie” from “Gone With The Wind” (1939), where Stallworth cleverly likens David Duke’s appraisal of his maid growing up with the love for ones’ dog. Before reaching the end of the film, he addresses the Presidency of Donald Trump with a few subtle nods, at one point saying, “the people would never elect someone like David Duke as the President of the United States of America.” It is an ominous dig at the fact that we all know that present day David Duke is an avid Donald Trump supporter, and Lee makes sure to include footage at the end of Donald Trump defending the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, infamously saying that there were “fine people on both sides.”

Spike Lee also does a great job with the decade specific dialogue. He brings about black culture in the 1970’s with a lot of vibrancy and flare, whether it be the disco dancing at the Red Lantern lounge or the frequent use of the phrase, “Ya dig?” or the homage to the blaxploitation flicks that dominated that era. The entire film has a lot of flare as it builds up to an exciting climax where the KKK and the Black Revolution gatherings overlap, and the whole investigation comes to a head.

It is, for the most part, a feel-good movie, especially if you enjoy seeing Ku Klux Klan leaders get got, and Black men and women working with white people to advance society for the better. And especially if you know that it was all true. “BlacKkKlansman” is a hit, one of Spike Lee’s most accessible and well-regarded films to date, receiving six nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Adam Driver for Best Supporting Director, and it won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.


2 responses to “BlacKkKlansman (2018)”

  1. I never knew he was Denzel’s son, but now that I see the slight overbite it makes sense. Cool review….thanks for sharing.


    1. I know, right?! I didn’t recognize him initially, but now that I know, it’s hard to miss!! Thanks for reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

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