I always get a little nervous writing pieces about race. In case you have not seen my face: I’m a white dude! I like to joke that once upon a time, my Italian qualities might have gotten me categorized as not-white, which, based on both real history and the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates*, isn’t really all that outlandish a joke-claim. But it’s 2019 and I’m definitively white, and when you’re white, speaking to matters of race isn’t that far off from wandering into a minefield when you know the minefield is there. I don’t mind saying that I don’t totally know what I’m talking about when talking about race. Seems fair.
But I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to film, so with High Flying Bird, I think I’m at least half in the clear, which means I’ve only had one leg blown off rather than two and an arm and half my face. So far so good!
I’ll concede freely that this piece is inspired by nearly two years of mulling over the Still Processing podcast’s “We Take a Knee” episode, cited directly here, where Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two of my great influences, get at the same subject matter Tarell Alvin McCraney** and Steven Soderbergh get at in their film. So this is kind of a long time in the making. I can only hope that that consideration gives my writing the ballast I fear it lacks just based on my relationship to American racism.
Also: André Holland is amazing. But that’s another matter for another time.
You can read the full piece over at Little White Lies.
*See: Between the World and Me.
**Worth noting that McCraney feels more like the driver here than Soderbergh, who I think respectfully directs the film without any personal vanity. This is why he’s one of the greats. But McCraney is pretty goddamn great, too.