Notes on ‘Get Out’ and the Black Experience: A Midweek Meditation

This past Sunday, I saw Jordan Peele’s latest film Get Out. Opting out of watching the Oscars, a decision I was pleased with upon reviewing the event’s highlights and cringing at all of Jimmy Kimmel’s tone-deaf jokes, I sat in a theatre filled with folks of color. I was hesitant about the film at first. I love Jordan Peele. I am half black and half white with a white partner, so the concept of fear that accompanies the navigation of intimate white spaces is within reach for me. I also love a good thriller. All in all, the film was set to be one of my favorites.

However, I become worrisome when a piece of art is immediately hyped up. I took a few days to watch Beyonce’s Lemonade. I waited a bit before listening to Solange’s A Seat At The Table. It wasn’t until the think-pieces started rolling in that I listened to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. My Facebook feed was filled with words of praise for Get Out and I was concerned that it may not live up to my expectations.

It most certainly did live up to my expectations. There is a certain breed of fear that exists for people of color. The fear of exclusion within familial spaces. The fear of rejected cultural cues within your kin. The extreme fear of otherness that all too often ends up in death. These fears were captured seamlessly in Get Out. Not only did it legitimately scare me by playing upon the mild panic that lays within the early stages of every interracial relationship (“Does your family know that I’m brown/black/not like them?”), but it also showed ostracizing moments that end up breeding a sense of lose and confusion – like the moment when you code-switch to greet another black person and your greeting is rejected. When the fist bump, the “heyyyy girrrrrl”, the “what’s good brother” is ignored, it is confirmation that your cultural currency is worth nothing within that particular setting, an interaction that is unsettling and only breeds further exclusion.

A horror movie for us. What a novel idea.

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