I came across this video a few weeks ago. It’s part of the Everyone film series. It’s a sort of character profile of New Orleans residents “stoop sitting.” I was reading through the comments on Vimeo and every one complimented the video on its cinematography, or the way it captured the people. One person even commented that this is a favorite past time for New Orleans residents. But I gotta tell you, as an African American, it kind of bothered me. Watch the video, then let me know what you think. Below the video I wrote the comment I left on Vimeo. As of this blog post writing, mine seemed to be the only dissenting voice.
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Here was my comment:
I guess I’ll be the first one brave enough to say something I’m sure SOME body out there besides me must have thought: is this the best message to send to African Americans right now–or ever, for that matter) And is this really the kind of film that the NOLA community needs?
I’ve had the honor to make a couple of short videos addressing the plight and/or hope of people in the NOLA community. What has inspired me most is the loyalty and love of the city the people have. Their resolve to go back home, regardless of Katrina’s wrath. I’ve been inspired by their dreams and desires. What I would love to see are more films that play up THAT aspect of NOLA.
Does no one else find it oddly poignant that NOLA is such an economically depressed area, yet someone on this forum says stoop-sitting is the city’s pastime? If I didn’t know first hand what the real spirit and passion of the city was, as a cynical outsider I would connect the two more closely than they probably deserve.
I can’t help but think of the three “stoop sitters” in Spike Lee’s excellent “Do the Right Thing” who complained all day long about how the Koreans (who were woking hard from sun up to sun down) had a store in their (black) neighborhood. Meanwhile, all these three guys did all day was stoop sit and drink beer. Or who could forget The Mayor and his encounter with the urban kid who lambasted him for stoop sitting all day instead of working hard.
Spike did make sure to share The Mayor’s thoughts that that kid hadn’t walked in Da Mayor’s shoes, so he shouldn’t judge. So in a way, Spike showed both sides of the argument. But my interpretation of the message was this: MLK, Malcolm X, Medgar Evars and their ilk didn’t die so that black people could have the right to stoop sit. I know this is an aspect of the African American community, but I don’t know if it’s the aspect of the black community we should be so proud of.
I’m just offering thoughts for conversation. I am compassionate to the plight of NOLA and the fact that many people in that area (and areas like it) are dealing with things beyond their control. (I’m also aware that there are some people in this film who look as if they lack the physical or event mental capacity to work). But it’s because of times like these that we need films that inspire, uplift, and encourage those in situations like these to better their lives.