Thursday, August 20, 2009

Soul Man (1986)

My poor blog! I devoted my summer to The C.O.W.S. and neglected my blogging duties. I think my efforts yielded some productive programs; an Admitted White Supremacist revealed that she would be in "free fall" if the System of White Supremacy folded and a different Admitted Racist rebuked a White man while explaining that White folks ain't Victims of Racism. I hope the programs have been helpful to non-whites. But I want my blog to evolve right along with The C.O.W.S.. So I'll try to multitask because there are several things I want to write about.

First up,
Soul Man. I hadn't seen this film in decades. But as I've become more informed about the System of White Supremacy, I've concluded that movies are phenomenal tools to illustrate and hone one's understanding of White Supremacy. Dr. Martin Kevorkian demonstrated this in his book and on the program. I knew it was worth rummaging for Soul Man - a White man turns himself black to get scholarship money for Harvard and "falls in love" with a black female to boot? Exemplary study in White Supremacy. Let's get started.

Mark Watson is a young White guy, has parents with
über bankroll and gets accepted to Harvard Law School. He's moonwalking up the White Supremacist ladder until daddy withdraws his financial support. With his future disintegrating, Mark takes desperate action. He purposely overdoses on tanning pills donated by his White pal, and voilà, he's a nigger! Once darkened he's awarded the Henry Q. Bouchard Memorial Award for the outstanding Los Angeles negro heading to Harvard. With his wallet fattened and skin stained, Mark is off to Cambridge with not a care in the world. The implications of divesting from White Supremacy never crossed his mind.

Someone should have slipped him a copy of Black Like Me cause it can get right rough for coloreds. Mark gets a heapin' helpin' of Victimization; "Driving While Black," White people assuming he was shooting hoops before he could read, Racist jokes and malevolent White men vigilant to keep his sooty hands off their pale daughters. White people immediately and consistently recognize/categorize blackfaced Mark as a black person AND regulate their conduct accordingly; Even when Mark is oblivious - or incorrectly thinks being black is going to work in his favor, being non-white always has adverse consequences. White people are everything but color blind; they're hyper-cognizant of whom ain't a member of their club.


Soul Man predates the Nicole Brown Simpson and OJ fiasco, but someone should have also alerted Mark to the human hazard that is White women. Whitney Dunbar, moves into Mark's building with blue eyes for dark guys. And Whitney ain't just a White chic with money; she's majoring in political science and doing a thesis on the so called Civil Rights movement. Getting Mark in her bedroom is easier then getting 50 black males in prison. Straddling a negro gives her a chance to "feel 400 years of oppression and anger in every pelvic thrust." Yes, this is said verbatim in the film. And I've heard White people say things right close to this in real life. As if the bed room represents the colorless, raceless sphere of Justice. Disrobed, disarmed, cloaked in darkness we can finally work out our frustrations and achieve humanity and oneness so elusive.

Damn, that sounds good! It's exponentially more persuasive if a sexually attractive White person is pitching this at you. But it's about as logical as looking for polar bears in Hawaii. White people and non-white people been having sex together for eons. If that was going to Replace Racism With Justice... this blog would not exist! I'd be writing about the health benefits of being vegan and 100 things you can do with garlic. Overt White Supremacists engage in sexual intercourse with non-white people all the time; playin' in the slave quarters don't mean master is shuttin' the plantation down. Non-whites tend to get disoriented about this - I suspect White people are aware of this, and foolishness like
Soul Man perpetuates the confusion. For all Whitney's oral service, she doesn't intervene when her own family members practice White Supremacy against Mark - or her non-white servant.

Even though Whitney and her clan are duped, Mark is White. The for real, for real miscegenation is Mark and Sarah Walker - played by the scrumptious Rae Dawn Chong. Mark preys on Chong's character from day one - even while logging time in Whitney's sheets. Sarah Walker is also a Harvard Law student. But she's non-white. No clever scholarship shenanigans for her; she's a struggling, dish scrubbing, single mom.

Mark penetrates Sarah's tough shell and secures a cozy l'il relationship. For icing and sprinkles on top, he gets in good with her offspring and family members. All's swell until he discovers his bamboozled, negro scholarship should have gone to Sarah.

Enter White Guilt. Mark had no compunction about swindling money for college and deceiving everyone in the process. But seeing the non-white Victim of his depraved acts is a bit much for Mark's stomach. So he comes clean. Ditches his bronzing medication, makes a public, pale face confession. Throws himself on the mercy of his peers and instructors.

This is White Supremacists at their devious best. They've done something incorrect. They have perpetrated a crime. Yet they use words to convince others - typically their non-white casualties - that they are the victims. Mark's White accomplice delivers a passionate plea requesting lenience and understanding. He implores Mark's cohorts to recognize that he is a "victim of society;" Mark was an ambitious young man in dire straits. He failed to get the help he needed and committed a fool-hardy act. Have the courage to forgive and show the White man mercy.

Mark, the White person, is our hero. We don't want his dreams eviscerated. We're rooting for him to get a second chance. And he gets it. Doesn't even lose his colored girl.

A
tragic arrangement founded on a lie; Mark even deceives Sarah's child. No matter. Interracial relationships are alright if two people really care about each other. Mark, Sarah and her son stroll the Cambridge grounds hand in hand as the credits roll. Could anything be more heart warming then a post racial climax?

White Supremacy at it's revolting, obliterating best.
Of course the System of White Supremacy has been vanquished if a White man nuzzles a darkie in broad day light. Mark even decked a pair of White guys for cracking Racist jokes. So he can't be a White Supremacist and non-whites got no mo' troubles or fears.

Unfortunately, the 1980's Hollywood version of Harvard confounds one's understanding of why Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was shackled and removed from his own home in 2009.


Soul Man does an excellent job illustrating the dehumanizing way that black people are seen and treated by White people; seeing the drastic change in Mark's quality of life, in how White people treat him in all areas of people activity is a stunning display of the ramifications of being non-white in a System of Racism. But Mark's relationship with Sarah is merely a refined version of his relationship with Whitney. Soul Man's final image of racial reconciliation and love's triumph over the boundaries of race is a recycled version of the same fodder the film ostensibly ridiculed in Whitney.

Mark doesn't grab Sarah and her child and impress upon them that every aspect of human life is engineered to preserve the System of White Supremacy. Mark doesn't demand that Sarah and her offspring remain suspicious of every White person as long as White Supremacy exists. To the contrary, the film implies that black people and White people are eroding Racism by being willing to date - get naked - with one another. Nothing could be further from the truth - and the film evidences this point explicitly.

In fact, as Rae Dawn Chong prepares to announce her endorsement of interracial relationships, she looks eerily similar to Halle Berry at the close of Monster's Ball. Confused, victimized.

**Extra Credit**

I think this film is consciously and/or subconsciously bragging about and exploring many White men's veiled belief that you're not really a man until you've
split some dark oak. Mark's father announces his intent to terminate his financial support as a gift. The gift of manhood. I didn't attend film school, but the piece starts with a White man being given, seeking masculinity and ends with him brandishing Rae Dawn Chong as his belly warmer. I think I could be correct.

The accompanying soundtrack deserves a comment as well. This film is backgrounded with Louis Armstrong, Otis Redding, Sly Stone, Vesta Williams... a hall of fame black ensemble. I've seen this trend in a litany of films where White folks indulge their black fetishes (
Black And White, Lakeview Terrace, Boiler Room). Monster's Ball tossed Mos Def and P Diddy in the cast, and all of these films revolve around White people having sex with black people. A coincie-dink...
I think not! Mark even comments that he's not feeling the Beach Boys as much after masquerading as a brotha - although he still likes some of their "funkier stuff" (What ever that means). White people's appetite for black music and love making seems compensatory - making up for something missing. What White people find and search for in the tunes, wombs and souls of black folks is a topic for another blog, book, dissertation, anthology.

3 comments:

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