Posts Tagged ‘The Great Debaters’


I just watched the movie The Great Debaters on Showtime on Demand and I must say that anyone who saw “Madea Goes To Jail” before this film should be kicked out of Black Folks.  Tyler Perry has a right to make his buffoon brand of movies and TV shows and yes I watch them.  But, I can watch that mess and BET videos occasionally in its proper context after reading the newspapers, books and substantive materials online.

 We should be appalled and disgusted that Blacks before us went through hell and high waters for the opportunity to be men, women and families.  Think about the few Blacks who found scholastic sanctuary on college campus like Wiley College in Texas or my father at North Carolina A & T and Tuskegee during the same time frame as this movie.  Like the current Lexus motto, they had a relentless pursuit of excellence against unimaginable obstacles.

Fast forward to today and the fact that I break my neck every chance I get to tell the positive young Black tennis players from my high school that I am so proud of them and dam near teary-eyed about their playing a character-building, non-glamorous lifetime sport.  More importantly, I am proud that they excel in the classroom and carry themselves as gentleman and gentlewomen—when no one is watching.  Hell, I can’t stop the college age young men formerly of the team from saying “yes sir” and “no sir” when we are on court but then again I do the same thing to my elders out of respect and so they will impart their wisdom on me.  As a sidenote, a former member of the Rams tennis team won a conference championship ring at Tuskagee; and the top sister from this year’s team is heading to HBCU Fort Valley State while a brother from the team will be playing at Alabama State and a continue his scholarly academic performance. 

In the 80s, there were Black people who thought the Cosby Show was pure fiction.  “No Black folks live like that…Black folks not ‘pose to be doctors and lawyers… N’s need to know our place.”  There but for the grace of God goes me.

Longtime President of Morehouse College Dr. Benjamin Mays famously informed a slacker student that he would be on the next bus back home.  Dr. Mays refused to hear the student’s pleas and told the young man that we as a people had been through so much; we came from so far and had so far still to go; we simply can afford to have him holding us back.  

Privately among ourselves, we discuss those among us who are intentionally or inadvertently holding us back—at time, this writer might have been on that list.  The White House is occupied by a Black President with a Black First Lady and great Black children with a Black dog but many Blacks continue to live in terror in America.  That terror isn’t from White nightriders or the local police (hell, the local police chief, who happens to be Black, emails me personally regarding community improvement efforts and I appreciate that;) the terror is from young thugs and drug addicts who look like us.  Half-raised thugs and want-to-be thugs who learned gangster life from watching videos on a channel started by Robert Johnson, one of America’s first Black billionaires who this time last year was questioning Obama fitness to be president.  What profits a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul or as Public Enemy rapped “I know you got sold.”  Pun intended.

When I was watching The Great Debaters, my best fear was that the positive Black women in the film would be raped or beaten—American domestic terror that Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics know too well.  After 911, White friends told me that for the first time in their lives their families were not safe in their own beds and on American streets.  I had to say join the club in which my folks has had membership since 1619.  Technically, those streets weren’t American until 1776.  

In politics and policy, conservatives miss the opportunity to capitalize on the fact that most Black voters and productive citizens believe that the next step in our development/struggle is not governmental but societal.  Hell, 80% of our community spends 80% of our time and effort addressing problems created by 20%.  What to do with and about that 20%?  That 20% has created a Black energy crisis because they have worn “us” out and drain the community behind foolishness. 

People talking about what would have happened if we ended our dependence on foreign oil at President Carter urging in the 1970s.  What would have happen if Newt and Bill Clinton pushed welfare reform so hard that people of any color would know that they shouldn’t have children until they are fully prepared to raise productive citizens.  But, this argument is theoretical at best because those who should not have kids at a certain time are often not logical enough to realize it.  Checkout the Great Debaters with your family.  Don’t get me started on Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns.”


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