This past weekend was the Oscars. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. The little girl in me gets excited about the fancy dresses and I am also a big movie fan. This year, I felt prepared, having seen a lot of the movies that were up for awards. Of all the movies I saw, “Green Book” was my favorite. When I saw the movie a few months ago, I just couldn’t stop smiling. The characters were written so well. They were accessible and relatable. When “Green Book” won Best Picture, it just had me smiling all over again.
I watched the Oscars with my kids and they had also seen “Green Book”. With them having seen it, it gave way to really great conversations about race and prejudice. Here are the top 3 things we were able to talk about thanks to the movie “Green Book”.
Racism wasn’t just in the south. While the events of the Civil Rights Movement took place primarily in the south, racism was alive and well all over the country. The actual Green Book listed African American-friendly accomodations all over the country, not just in the south. From as far north as Maine and all the way to California, there were many establishments that wouldn’t serve blacks. Yes, right where you live where you think equality has thrived, there was most likely places of business that operated under racist principles. That can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes.
It doesn’t have to be “a thing” to call out racism. In the film, the main character, Tony Lip, had moments where he stood up for Dr. Shirley to his family. He didn’t have to make some profound stand and create divide in his family. He just casually, but directly, made sure they knew it wasn’t okay. When we start small like that, we become more emboldened. Call racism what it is. Say it outloud. And lead with example.
Part of racism is stereotyping. In the film, Dr. Shirley was an accomplished musician with passions in art and world cultures. This didn’t jive with Tony Lip’s perception of African Americans. It’s an important lesson in how we choose to see people that are different from us. Do we casually fall into stereotyping traps? Are we labeling people subconsciously? It’s okay if you find yourself doing that because you can change. It just takes conscious effort. Change it always possible.
Films like “Green Book” are a great way to begin conversations, especially with kids. Kids are a lot smarter and more observant than we give them credit for. They can handle difficult conversations and the world is better off when we have them.