What’s Up With The Race Themes In ‘Get Out’?

What’s Up With The Race Themes In ‘Get Out’?

Assuming you saw the movie Get Out, here are three racially embedded themes many viewers may have missed.

The first theme is about the racism of racial stereotypes even when envious. Movie critic Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote about this point in her review Get Out. People of color (POC) regularly experience being a racial fetish. A white neighborhood friend once said to me, “You have the athleticism of blacks with the brains of whites” in reference to my “mulatto” heritage causing slightly above-average performance in sports and problem-solving. During Get Out’s few dialogues about the main character Chris’ (Daniel Kaluuya) eyes and “beastly” stature, we recognize the ignorance of African-Americans being stereotyped for their physical performance. A similar example this stereotype is evident toward the end of the movie when Chris’ girlfriend Rose (Amy Williams) is finding the next black recruit by Googling an elite black athlete instead of using any other criteria. Do we not know that stereotyping anyone is wrong by now?

The second theme is that African-Americans are “consumed” with race because, at some point, they have to be. There is a level of woke-ness (knowledge of racial oppression) that is learned by the vast majority of POCs in America. Most of this knowledge was not gained in a classroom, not even in February. There is a dismissive look POCs get when they mention racial oppression to people who simply do not agree with race as a significant factor in ever-widening achievement gaps. Rose gives Chris this look when he raises concerns about her parents not knowing he is African-American. Chris then shows this same look as his friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) warns him about meeting white parents for the first time. Later on, Chris feels this paranoia while attempting to find comfort with another POC by mentioning racial tension to the maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel).

Georgina, who is possessed by a white woman, replies how she does not feel this tension at all. For a few years, I attended annual diversity recruitment fairs (apparently they are necessary) sponsored by a local black college. I gave my resume in person and formally applied for several jobs in predominately white schools. I did not get a single interview. I couldn’t figure this since I have: experience, required skillset, pedigree, demeanor, references, articulate, and achievements that, on paper, place me above most candidates. I asked my majority middle-class social network, excluding PE and music, how many black male teachers do you remember? The response was limited first of all (previous point), and not one person as-a-matter-of-fact pointed out a black male teacher from their entire education. My friend, who is a black engineer, had a near identical experience despite having all the credentials, credentials that should help POCs transcend race. Apparently, for us, they did not. Most POCs are just as “consumed” with race as others are consumed with avoiding discussions of it.

The third and final theme is how race is rarely stated as a condition of discrimination even when it obviously affects POCs at significantly higher rates. When Chris asks, “Why black people,” about the victims, he is told that it’s because of his eye for photography and not his race. Outside of the racial fetish dialogue, Get Out does not answer Chris’ question at all. The movie does not convey any grand conspiracy to kidnap black bodies. It is left up to us based on a few dialogues. We assume that because all of these victims in the movie are black, it is race-based. Would it have been racial if all the victims were white? Are the high disparities between African-American and white Americans really part of a massive plan to maintain the status quo or just a cultural consequence witnessed around the world? Since no one can definitively tell me, I have to make that judgment based on evidence like any other rational person. I am not an exception to the fact that minorities are generally paid less than whites across the board given the same job/profession. Does that evidence tell you anything different than the proof of the victims’ race in Get Out?

Brian Boeser