Black. White. Part 4
As everyone is seen gaining understanding and knowledge about themselves as individual and others in different races, there is one glaring stalwart, stone, immovable figure. Bruno.
At the end of last night’s episode, he presents a DVD that he had made months before the whole project had even presented itself because of his frustration with the whole “rap video” thing.
To say it was probably the most discomforting display of white stereotyping and disrespect I have ever seen would be an understatement. He talks about disrespecting women, getting in trouble with the police, being inarticulate, etc.
I don’t really understand why he did this project. There’s Nick, the son of the black family, who allows kids to say the n-word around him, because he doesn’t care. Mom and dad hit the roof, realizing that their son does not get it. Dad takes him to a barbershop so that the barber can give his son a talking to. Nick is open to this and changes.
Rose, the white family’s daughter, realizes that as much as her skin color includes her into a familial community that she loves, she is still excluded because she does not have the experience.
And this is key.
When we talk about immigrants, people from other countries, Chinese, Korean, Irish, Mexican, we can talk about certain things in regards to going through proper channels of immigration etc. And they can talk about an experience and a culture within their community – talking about areas in which their ancestors still reside, genealogy, etc. But the black experience is so different to anyone else’s. Their collective experience is slavery. It is what they all know their ancestors went through. They don’t know their family trees and names. They don’t know from which area of the world they originated. They have names, for God’s sake, that were allotted to them. Names that the slave traders couldn’t or wouldn’t pronounce so they were changed to European names. How can anyone not in that exclusive group ever begin to grasp that experience? Saying – I’m not responsible for what my forefathers did. I didn’t own slaves. Get over it. – is missing the point altogether. This mindset misses the point that this is a history that exists. You don’t “get over” your collective history. As Americans we do not get over the revolution. We do not get over our civil war. It is a part of our cultural fabric. And slavery is the cultural fabric that every African American shares. It is their history. Having such a barbaric and horrific thread connecting you to everyone else in your race is something only they can understand. As compassionate and empathetic as I am, I will never ever understand it. And Rose cried because she realized that the warmth she felt being called a “queen” and a “sister” while walking in the community of one of her poetry classmates was superficial, it was not hers to feel as she did not have a hold of the thread that binds the African American community.
But these guys are all growing and doors are flying open in their minds, which is a great thing to see.
Then we see our little vault man, Bruno.
He goes to an “affluent” black man’s home hoping to find out what it is that he was able to do differently. Bruno immediately steps in it by talking about black fathers leaving the family, and spouting continuous stereotypical commentary and the guy is looking at him like “are you crazy?”
Even Carmen, Bruno’s wife, believes that this will change their relationship. She realizes that he is completely shut off; with his opinions and views making him so tunnel visioned that she cannot see how this will not dramatically affect their marriage.
Carmen, to be honest, reminds me a little of myself, in that if I was able to somehow mix into the black community as a black woman, I would want to go all out – wearing those beautiful tribal colors that look so horrid on white skin but look beautiful with darker skin – absorbing the culture. But she pushes too hard. She reminds me of my puppy, all eager and gung-ho but inappropriate and somewhat annoying – mostly because she’s not a puppy, she’s a forty year old woman who is acting like a teenager. Rose has more decorum than her mom. But she wants to understand. For all her mistakes, I honestly believe she wants to embrace the experience and grow.
And then we have our little closet plant, Bruno.
I hope all this boxed-in Bruno portrayal leads to a final show of him saying – whoa. I get it. I completely missed all that because, I don’t know. I thought everyone could just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I didn’t realize that some people don’t even have boots.