The Movie Race is the story of Olympic Great Jesse Owens. It is a remarkable story about, some of the usual things, perseverance, hard work and true grit.
But this movie is so much more than a kid from the poor neighborhoods working hard and making it. It’s so much more than what can happen when a coach takes the time to find raw ability and harness that gift into something the world can see.
This is the story of racism, discrimination and how blind we are to our own stereotypes and actions. Owens is a black man who competes in the Berlin Olympics just a few years before World War Two begins. The pressure is on for the United States to boycott the games but it doesn’t happen.
The NAACP tries to pressure Owens into making a political point and boycott the Olympics. After plenty of soul searching Owens takes a risk and sends a far more powerful message to the world about the NAZI’S and decides to compete. How easy it would have been to fall to pressure of a political nature and do what seemed the right thing but in the end would have been a decision with far less power.
This movie is a must see. Kathy and I were really taken back by the film. We watched as the U.S. struggled with the decision to go or boycott. We sat in awe as we watched how Hitler and other NAZI’S treated the Jews and African Americans.
But I guess what took us back the most was seeing everyone pointing fingers at the horrible treatment of Jews in Germany (and it was shocking) while here at home we were shunning African Americans, not allowing them to shower with white players and at the end of the movie (Spoiler Alert) Jesse Owens, the American Hero, is forced to use the back entrance to a famous hotel, because a black person was not allowed to walk through the front door. To make this even more embarrassing, the very dinner he and his wife were attending was to honor him.
This movie brings out how blind we are when it comes to racism and discrimination. It reminds us how easy it is to create villains out of those we don’t understand or those we disagree with.
We live in a country that believes it is so progressive and that we’ve come so far. We have not. In fact, in my opinion we continue to slip backwards.
Oh, we say we treat and honor all people but many groups still see no difference. And in our political progress we’ve stooped to a place where ideological differences are the new measuring stick for who’s in and who’s out.
Disagree with the status quo or prevailing opinion and you will be ushered to the back door too.
This movie is a must see. And if you think you understand and are somehow above behaving the same way, perhaps you need to see it more than once.