Red Tails: An African American Obligation?

Shantez Marie Talbot, Staff Writer

The recent movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, “Red Tails”, has been stirring up a lot of noise with it being number two in the box office in its first weekend. While I did support this movie and made my contribution to the cause, I have one particular personal problem that has been pulling my chins. It is the constant harassment, badgering and accusation about the authenticity of one’s commitment to their race, which is solely based on their interest and commitment to support Red Tails.
On social sites like Twitter and Facebook, I have seen people cyber-force/coerce other fellow African-Americans to go support Red Tails because “if we don’t, then who else will.” While, I do agree with this statement to a certain extent, I have to take into account that while we still live in a very racist society (one that made George Lucas take over 20 years to make a film with a primarily Black male cast), it is imperative that in order to “undo” this system of oppression, we have to take the guilt and accountability off of being an individual. By this, I mean that even if it is a shortage of Black movies being fit for the big screen, it should not be implied that because someone has dark skin, they should have to go see a predominantly Black film for any reason.
To go along with this theme of obligation, this is not only the case with this recent George Lucas film; it is in every sense about Black existence. Whether it is Black owned businesses, HBCUs or Black entertainers, it seems that it is mandatory for African-Americans to support their own. Lamar Ezell, a 21 year old African American man says, “It seems to me that a lot of African American people feel that the majority of Black business and enterprises are not of quality. They are not professional and to support low quality in any form would demean us as a race of people. This goes for businesses and entertainment, for example, Tyler Perry.” He continued, “Even though his movies tend to be funny, do they really paint us in a positive light? Can we say that the general public can get a positive outlook on the lives of African Americans through his work?” In many ways, I agreed with the Ezell’s outlook about the majority of Black businesses. However, I had to acknowledge that I have had positive experiences with black businesses and entertainment as well. In segregated cities such as Chicago, it is not a secret that
people with similar cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds tend to group together in a community. For instance, a lot of us may have visited Chinatown or Greektown, where the majority of the businesses are owned and operated by people of Asian and Greek descent. Usually, these places are filled with tons of colorful artwork, unique people and tourist sites for the purposes of the preservation of their particular history, culture and traditions. The argument for African Americans is that they do not support each other enough to create community amongst themselves.
So, with all of this being said, are we really obligated to support ALL things that are Black owned? Should we choose to support those of which are of quality and gives us the recognition that it deserves? Is the questioning of loyalty and moral responsibility necessary when an individual chooses not to support? Is the “Red Tails” controversy a sign that African Americans really do care and support their own?

Published: Monday, February 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 03:02