Last night Chris and I watched Hairspray.
Its a fun loving, sing songing movie set in Baltimore in 1962.Tracy Turnblad is a “pleasantly plump” (her own words) teen who loves to dance and gets the opportunity to be a dancer on the Corny Collins show. Once on the show she discovers that the black kids are only allowed to dance on the show once a month. Her belief in racial integration leads her to speak out, take risks in a way that will change her live and the lives of those around her forever. All wrapped up in some groovy tunes and some funky dance moves.
Like all musical movies, Hairspray is fun and ecletic, and you wonder how these actors manage to keep a straight face while their colleagues burst into song mid dialogue. I loved the actors, John Travolta and Christopher Walken are great, and I love it whenever Queen Latifah is back.
Somewhere near the end of the film, there was this somber moment that settled on Chris and I. It didn’t come down to a speech or a song. The film has these blink and you miss them moments which sobers up about the pain of racial segregation, the inevitability of change in that era, and yet the incredible resistance.
Chris started talking about Reggie, a mature African- American student he studied with at Fuller. They had a conversation about segregation once. What it was like to live in those days, every day. How it felt. Reggie talked. Chris listened.
Chris turned and said
“Sometimes we don’t realise what a statement we are in this culture.”
Obviously, we’ve had our fair share of abuse since getting together, from both black and white, though the abuse (unprintable) has consistently been directed at me. The UK had its dark days too. Signs on the doorways of rental properties etc ” No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs”. Rivers of Blood and Cricket Tests. Not a pretty picture. I digress.
But we didn’t have segregation.
One day I took the girls to meet Chris down at Fuller for lunch. I met Reggie and a few other African- American mature students. There’s a look in the eyes of people who have lived through days you could never understand. There was a warmth in their eyes and smile. An element of suprise as they watched our little family. Who knows what they were thinking, feeling. Maybe they saw history and the future at the same time. It was only a moment, one of those blink and you will miss it moments where you have the privilege of seeing someone’s soul, their life hopes and dreams in their eyes.
Our film ended singing and dancing, prophesying of a change that would come no matter what.
Democrats will choose between a white woman or a black man to lead them to the White House. A Republic African American woman is the 66th US Secretary of State. People make statements and fall in love cross culturally every day.
There is a long way to go, lots of changes that need to take place here in the US. Lots of healing, progress, equality needed – across racial divides that are not just about Black and While, but many cultures, many colours.