Film Chronicles Racism in America

RYAN PILE
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Racist “skinheads” still stalk America’s streets, white supremacists regularly gather for pro-Hitler rallies, and Confederate-flag-carrying members of the Ku Klux Klan still march in the streets, according to the film “Hate Across America.”

About 45 students crowded into a room in the Student Center on Oct. 28 to watch a brutally realistic glimpse of race relations in America.

The movie was a part of the Cultural Diversity Program’s series of lectures and video’s whose goal “is to make people aware,” according to the event organizer, Associate Professor of Sociology J.C. Moore.

“It made me more aware of racial discrimination and the violence that stems from it,” said student Matthew Delgadilla, 19. “[Racism] still exists today, even if it is a bit toned down.” The film depicted the concept of discrimination by focusing on past events.

The majority of the forty-minute film was dedicated to the “Freedom Summer” of 1964 and the demise of three of its participants, James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. The three were part of thousands of northern college students who spent the summer in Mississippi in an attempt to register black voters.

They worked among a white population bitterly opposed to what they were doing. The three multiracial friends were eventually shot dead by members of the KKK.

The killings brought the national spotlight to Mississippi and resulted in the arrest of 21 influential KKK members. The tragedy is also seen by many as the key reason that more than 60,000 blacks were registered to vote in that summer alone.

“Those murders caused a moral redemption,” said “My Mississippi” author Willie Morris during a brief interview in the film. “In a bizarre way, [the murders] were a gift to the present and a reminder for the future.”

The film illustrated the more modern racist groups. It chronicled the former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s election to the Louisiana state legislature in 1989. Richard Butler’s Aryan Nation, whose members claim to be on call from God, was outlined in detail.

A scene of Butler preaching, with a bible in hand, about how to “rid the earth of Jewish mongrels” was one of many that drew angry gasps from the audience.

“It will make you think of the public’s conscience,” Moore told the gathered students before the film. “You will question race relations of yesterday and today and ask: how much have we changed?”

Scenes of hooded Klansmen marching in the streets of Washington and radical skinhead militia training with sniper rifles kept the audience’s rapt attention.

In one interview, a skinhead teenager gave his thoughts on killing: “it is more painful (for the victim) if you beat the s-t out of them and watch them bleed.”

The film ended with an interview with author Raphael Ezekiel, “The Racist Mind.”

“Hate is still as raw as in 1964,” he said. “There is a well of anger and hate. If we gave one-tenth of our time to our communities, these groups would be stopped.”

Racism is often obvious but it can also be subtle, said Associate Professor of Philosophy Lina Gupta.