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"The Butler" Distorts Race Relations

LowDown

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To hear it from certain prominent black celebrities, race relations are worse than they have been in many years.

The Oprah is right in the middle of it, implying that her loss of viewers and the lack of success of her recent ventures is due to racism, making silly claims about the Trayvon Martin case and appearing in a movie seemingly designed to belittle progress in race relations over the past 60 years.

The contrast between the movie Oprah helped produce, "The Butler", and the story of the real life black butler in the White House, who served under a series of presidents, is illustrative.

Born in 1919, Eugene Allen grew up in segregated Virginia, and slowly worked his way up the butler profession, largely without incident. Unlike the fictional Cecil Gaines, he did not watch the boss rape his mother on a Georgia farm, only to shoot a bullet through his father’s head as he starts to protest the incident, leading Cecil years later to escape his past for a better future.

Instead, over a period of years, Allen rose from a “pantry man” to the highest position in White House service, Maître d’hôtel. His life was marked by quiet distinction and personal happiness. He was married to the same woman, Helene, for 65 years. He had one son, Charles, who served in Vietnam. During the Reagan years, Nancy Reagan invited Allen and his wife to a state dinner as guests. When he retired shortly afterwards, “President Reagan wrote him a sweet note. Nancy Reagan hugged him, tight,” according to the story in the Washington Post. During service, he never said a word of criticism about any president. Nor was his resignation an act of political protest.
The fictional butler is almost the complete polar opposite, tortured by racial conflict, injustice and violence all through his life and tenure at the White House. In the end he quits his job in protest to join the black civil rights movement. The viewer leaves with the impression that the civil rights movement has failed.

But, of course, it has not. Long gone are the whites only lunch counters, the seperate water fountain (or no water fountain) for blacks, the Jim Crow laws, segregation, and so on. Blacks have even been afforded special privileges in the form of preferential hiring and admission to universities. They can be assured of a certain number of black actors in most movies. They can even bypass merit based promotion and pay increases though disperate impact doctrines.

So, it appears to me that what prominent blacks fear is that they are in danger of losing the advantages that being a victimized group have given them. I suspect that this fear started when they were blindsided by an event that they didn't expect, not for many more years, anyway, which was the election of Barack Obama, a man of color. Suddenly the whole idea that blacks can't hope to make it in the US, that America "doesn't work" for them, was in tatters. It suddenly became a lot more difficult to evoke white guilt. Thus they have to push the idea that no progress at all has been made in civil rights. Oprah is one of the richest women in creation, but she still feels the need to paint herself as a victim of racist shop girls and American justice as hopelessly biased against blacks. I think that she fears that she and other blacks are becoming just another bunch of Americans.
 

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This is possibly some of the dumbest commentary I have read on race issues in some time. Say what you will about the privileges of being a "victimized" race...being a colored minority is still largely a disadvantage in American society. It's completely asinine and inaccurate to suggest that just because Barack Obama (who grew up in a privileged white middle class background) made it into the White House that barriers to achievement for blacks are some how diminished or gone.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that those who are blind to their own privileges have the gall to suggest that marginalized groups are better off than everybody else.
 

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Haven't seen the movie, but somewhere along the way I heard a story about the WH butlers/maids, etc. What I was told was that those were about the only jobs that allowed blacks to serve their country and the people who did it had considered them a great honor (sort of like the butler on Downton Abbey), and they treasured those jobs and tried to pass them down to their own relatives. I don't know.
 

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Have not seen the movie, do not plan to see the movie. But I do know I have heard Opra cry racism quite a few times. It's pretty pathetic on her part.
 

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...being a colored minority is still largely a disadvantage in American society.
Sure. Just ask Oprah how much more successful she could have been if she were white.
 

zstep18

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Sure. Just ask Oprah how much more successful she could have been if she were white.
Or you could ask any one of the other African-American billionaires.

Oh, wait.....
 

opendebate

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Sure. Just ask Oprah how much more successful she could have been if she were white.
How does having money equate to NOT experiencing racism?
 

VanceMack

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This is possibly some of the dumbest commentary I have read on race issues in some time. Say what you will about the privileges of being a "victimized" race...being a colored minority is still largely a disadvantage in American society. It's completely asinine and inaccurate to suggest that just because Barack Obama (who grew up in a privileged white middle class background) made it into the White House that barriers to achievement for blacks are some how diminished or gone.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that those who are blind to their own privileges have the gall to suggest that marginalized groups are better off than everybody else.
The biggest barrier to black Americans finding success in this country is being born into and living in a black community. How tragic is THAT? And lest you decide that is a racist comment...consider the plight of the Appalachian white family and their 'privilege'. ****ty circumstances are ****ty circumstances. As is usually the case, the culprit tends to live awful close to home.
 

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The viewer leaves with the impression that the civil rights movement has failed.
I saw the movie and this isn't true. The viewer leaves with the impression that conditions have improved, but that conditions are still not perfect. In fact, one of the last scenes in the movie is the Butler's son talking about how Americans need to fight for South Africans during apartheid in the same way they fought for blacks during Jim Crow. The implication of that scene is the Civil Rights movement had a significant measure of success in the United States. And, I believe the very last scene, is the Butler celebrating the election of Barack Obama in which he says that he never thought he'd see a black president. That scene is CLEARLY meant to indicate a great deal of progress.

If this is your review of the movie, it sounds like you either didn't watch it or you went it with an expectation that you didn't allow yourself to let go of. Shame, really.

I suspect that this fear started when they were blindsided by an event that they didn't expect, not for many more years, anyway, which was the election of Barack Obama, a man of color.
It's actually my impression that those who are now the most afraid are a certain segment white Americans who are watching themselves lose their white privilege in lieu of a more equal America. I'm talking about white people who make nasty comments about Trayvon Martin, who dismiss people's experiences with racism as "race baiting", who rant about "taking our country back" and the like.
 

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To hear it from certain prominent black celebrities, race relations are worse than they have been in many years.

The Oprah is right in the middle of it, implying that her loss of viewers and the lack of success of her recent ventures is due to racism, making silly claims about the Trayvon Martin case and appearing in a movie seemingly designed to belittle progress in race relations over the past 60 years.

The contrast between the movie Oprah helped produce, "The Butler", and the story of the real life black butler in the White House, who served under a series of presidents, is illustrative.



The fictional butler is almost the complete polar opposite, tortured by racial conflict, injustice and violence all through his life and tenure at the White House. In the end he quits his job in protest to join the black civil rights movement. The viewer leaves with the impression that the civil rights movement has failed.

But, of course, it has not. Long gone are the whites only lunch counters, the seperate water fountain (or no water fountain) for blacks, the Jim Crow laws, segregation, and so on. Blacks have even been afforded special privileges in the form of preferential hiring and admission to universities. They can be assured of a certain number of black actors in most movies. They can even bypass merit based promotion and pay increases though disperate impact doctrines.

So, it appears to me that what prominent blacks fear is that they are in danger of losing the advantages that being a victimized group have given them. I suspect that this fear started when they were blindsided by an event that they didn't expect, not for many more years, anyway, which was the election of Barack Obama, a man of color. Suddenly the whole idea that blacks can't hope to make it in the US, that America "doesn't work" for them, was in tatters. It suddenly became a lot more difficult to evoke white guilt. Thus they have to push the idea that no progress at all has been made in civil rights. Oprah is one of the richest women in creation, but she still feels the need to paint herself as a victim of racist shop girls and American justice as hopelessly biased against blacks. I think that she fears that she and other blacks are becoming just another bunch of Americans.

When I see threads like this I see a pathetic person behind the key-board.

Your a loser bud ......don't blame your inadequacies on blacks ....and it's all your fault!!

It's time you take personal responsibility for your condition.
 

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The biggest barrier to black Americans finding success in this country is being born into and living in a black community. How tragic is THAT? And lest you decide that is a racist comment...consider the plight of the Appalachian white family and their 'privilege'. ****ty circumstances are ****ty circumstances. As is usually the case, the culprit tends to live awful close to home.
x1000
 

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Oprah needs to lose some weight... and she is a racist bitch.
 

LowDown

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I saw the movie and this isn't true. The viewer leaves with the impression that conditions have improved, but that conditions are still not perfect. In fact, one of the last scenes in the movie is the Butler's son talking about how Americans need to fight for South Africans during apartheid in the same way they fought for blacks during Jim Crow. The implication of that scene is the Civil Rights movement had a significant measure of success in the United States. And, I believe the very last scene, is the Butler celebrating the election of Barack Obama in which he says that he never thought he'd see a black president. That scene is CLEARLY meant to indicate a great deal of progress.
I don't agree. CLEARLY they were making a plea for continuing the status quo, as if nothing had changed.

If this is your review of the movie, it sounds like you either didn't watch it or you went it with an expectation that you didn't allow yourself to let go of. Shame, really.
So, you watched it?

It's actually my impression that those who are now the most afraid are a certain segment white Americans who are watching themselves lose their white privilege in lieu of a more equal America. I'm talking about white people who make nasty comments about Trayvon Martin, who dismiss people's experiences with racism as "race baiting", who rant about "taking our country back" and the like.
White privilege. Another one of those bogus concepts. When people accept the idea that they are just Americans they will find out that everyone has problems.
 

ThePlayDrive

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I don't agree. CLEARLY they were making a plea for continuing the status quo, as if nothing had changed.
No, the movie was exceptionally clear that change had taken place. As in, the characters basically screamed it at the audience. Again, the line "I never thought I'd see a black man become president" at the very end of the movie was a very clear message to the audience that change had taken place.

So, you watched it?
That's what I said in the first line of my post. Did you watch it? Be honest.

White privilege. Another one of those "bogus concepts".
White privilege refers to things like the fact the white people have the privilege of not be discriminated against at anything even close to the rate that blacks and Hispanics do in housing, the justice system and other parts of our society. It's not a concept so much as it is a fact.
 

LowDown

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No, the movie was exceptionally clear that change had taken place. As in, the characters basically screamed it at the audience. Again, the line "I never thought I'd see a black man become president" at the very end of the movie was a very clear message to the audience that change had taken place.


That's what I said in the first line of my post. Did you watch it? Be honest.


White privilege refers to things like the fact the white people have the privilege of not be discriminated against at anything even close to the rate that blacks and Hispanics do in housing, the justice system and other parts of our society. It's not a concept so much as it is a fact.
I'm wondering whether a black man who has a clean record, good grades in school, good credit, and a college degree, would really have as much trouble as you say compared to whites with a similar situation. I'm pretty sure that a white man who has a criminal record, bad credit, and no education would have a lot of trouble.

Like I say, bogus concept.
 

head of joaquin

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The biggest barrier to black Americans finding success in this country is being born into and living in a black community. How tragic is THAT? And lest you decide that is a racist comment...consider the plight of the Appalachian white family and their 'privilege'. ****ty circumstances are ****ty circumstances. As is usually the case, the culprit tends to live awful close to home.
It's both funny and sad that you seem to think the disadvantages of being born into a black community has nothing to do with racism.
 

head of joaquin

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I'm wondering whether a black man who has a clean record, good grades in school, good credit, and a college degree, would really have as much trouble as you say compared to whites with a similar situation. I'm pretty sure that a white man who has a criminal record, bad credit, and no education would have a lot of trouble.

Like I say, bogus concept.
How do we white people make at all in this hostile land? We are so put upon!
 

head of joaquin

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I White privilege. Another one of those bogus concepts. When people accept the idea that they are just Americans they will find out that everyone has problems.
Maybe it's the privilege of not having had your ancestors raped, enslaved and robbed of their property for 400 years, and then robbed of opportunity and education for another 100 years under Jim Crow. Maybe those 500 years of accumulating property and education and cultural benefits while competitors had to live in shacks and work for free and weren't allowed to learn to read, makes a difference.

What a whacky idea, eh?
 

SMTA

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To hear it from certain prominent black celebrities, race relations are worse than they have been in many years.

The Oprah is right in the middle of it, implying that her loss of viewers and the lack of success of her recent ventures is due to racism, making silly claims about the Trayvon Martin case and appearing in a movie seemingly designed to belittle progress in race relations over the past 60 years.

The contrast between the movie Oprah helped produce, "The Butler", and the story of the real life black butler in the White House, who served under a series of presidents, is illustrative.



The fictional butler is almost the complete polar opposite, tortured by racial conflict, injustice and violence all through his life and tenure at the White House. In the end he quits his job in protest to join the black civil rights movement. The viewer leaves with the impression that the civil rights movement has failed.

But, of course, it has not. Long gone are the whites only lunch counters, the seperate water fountain (or no water fountain) for blacks, the Jim Crow laws, segregation, and so on. Blacks have even been afforded special privileges in the form of preferential hiring and admission to universities. They can be assured of a certain number of black actors in most movies. They can even bypass merit based promotion and pay increases though disperate impact doctrines.

So, it appears to me that what prominent blacks fear is that they are in danger of losing the advantages that being a victimized group have given them. I suspect that this fear started when they were blindsided by an event that they didn't expect, not for many more years, anyway, which was the election of Barack Obama, a man of color. Suddenly the whole idea that blacks can't hope to make it in the US, that America "doesn't work" for them, was in tatters. It suddenly became a lot more difficult to evoke white guilt. Thus they have to push the idea that no progress at all has been made in civil rights. Oprah is one of the richest women in creation, but she still feels the need to paint herself as a victim of racist shop girls and American justice as hopelessly biased against blacks. I think that she fears that she and other blacks are becoming just another bunch of Americans.
Have you actually seen the movie?
 

babilfish

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But, of course, it has not. Long gone are the whites only lunch counters, the seperate water fountain (or no water fountain) for blacks, the Jim Crow laws, segregation, and so on.
The only forms of discrimination worth mentioning, right?

Sure, blacks are doing a lot better than they were a long time ago. That doesn't mean the fight for equal rights is over.

Blacks have even been afforded special privileges in the form of preferential hiring and admission to universities.
Hah.

They can be assured of a certain number of black actors in most movies.
This has got to be the most ridiculous measure of discrimination in society. It also sounds like something that is imagined by some feeble mind.

...In any case, I absolutely demand a source.

They can even bypass merit based promotion and pay increases though disperate impact doctrines.
Source?
 

ThePlayDrive

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I'm wondering whether a black man who has a clean record, good grades in school, good credit, and a college degree, would really have as much trouble as you say compared to whites with a similar situation. I'm pretty sure that a white man who has a criminal record, bad credit, and no education would have a lot of trouble.

Like I say, bogus concept.
You never answered my question: did you see the movie? I ask because your description of it is truly inaccurate.
 

rcart76

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To hear it from certain prominent black celebrities, race relations are worse than they have been in many years.

The Oprah is right in the middle of it, implying that her loss of viewers and the lack of success of her recent ventures is due to racism, making silly claims about the Trayvon Martin case and appearing in a movie seemingly designed to belittle progress in race relations over the past 60 years.

The contrast between the movie Oprah helped produce, "The Butler", and the story of the real life black butler in the White House, who served under a series of presidents, is illustrative.



The fictional butler is almost the complete polar opposite, tortured by racial conflict, injustice and violence all through his life and tenure at the White House. In the end he quits his job in protest to join the black civil rights movement. The viewer leaves with the impression that the civil rights movement has failed.

But, of course, it has not. Long gone are the whites only lunch counters, the seperate water fountain (or no water fountain) for blacks, the Jim Crow laws, segregation, and so on. Blacks have even been afforded special privileges in the form of preferential hiring and admission to universities. They can be assured of a certain number of black actors in most movies. They can even bypass merit based promotion and pay increases though disperate impact doctrines.

So, it appears to me that what prominent blacks fear is that they are in danger of losing the advantages that being a victimized group have given them. I suspect that this fear started when they were blindsided by an event that they didn't expect, not for many more years, anyway, which was the election of Barack Obama, a man of color. Suddenly the whole idea that blacks can't hope to make it in the US, that America "doesn't work" for them, was in tatters. It suddenly became a lot more difficult to evoke white guilt. Thus they have to push the idea that no progress at all has been made in civil rights. Oprah is one of the richest women in creation, but she still feels the need to paint herself as a victim of racist shop girls and American justice as hopelessly biased against blacks. I think that she fears that she and other blacks are becoming just another bunch of Americans.
I held my opinion until I saw the movie just to be fair. Base on the movie I saw, your commentary seems to be distorted. I'm trying to understand where you got the notion that the movie is saying race relations has not improved? Overall, I saw the movie as being about his relationship with every president he served under and the relationship with his son. They had conflicts because their personalities were vastly different. He was more conservative in his actions while his son was more radical.

The only actual event that is debatable (his point of view vs Richard A. Epstein) was when the white cotton field owner rape his mom and shot his dad in front of him. Everything else seem historically accurate base on the stories my grandmother and grandfather told me about their experience in the south. So I ask the question what part of the movie you didn't believe?

I believe they portrayed every president as having a moral conscious, with the exception of Nixon. He seem like he just didn't like him at all. I also notice that the opinion of the The Black Panther movement was very negative in the movie (but of course you didn't notice that). The movie show progress in race relation when he finally got the promotions and the raises thanks to President Reagan ( A conservative president). Also when he finally saw the day that a black man became POTUS.

Some other things in the movie that you didn't notice was some of the presidents views of black people and the civil rights movement changed. LBJ was a perfect example. At first he use the word n***a to describe black people, I like how his heart change when he start referring to us a negros which was a step up back then. Kennedy opinion changed as well as Reagan. And above all, the biggest thing that you failed to see was that the efforts of the freedom riders and MLK help changed the minds of these presidents that convince them to pass bills that help progress the civil rights movement.

Another message I personally got of the movie and I think all blacks should as well is that one of the best weapons to progress race relation is to lead by example. Notice how Cecil carried himself with elegance and pride. Many of our young kids should learn from that because that will help break those stereotypes that are pinned on us. Every time I walk into the office, I am very conscious of my actions because I know that my reactions can help or hurt the next young brother or sister applying for a job at the company.
 

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This is possibly some of the dumbest commentary I have read on race issues in some time. Say what you will about the privileges of being a "victimized" race...being a colored minority is still largely a disadvantage in American society. It's completely asinine and inaccurate to suggest that just because Barack Obama (who grew up in a privileged white middle class background) made it into the White House that barriers to achievement for blacks are some how diminished or gone.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that those who are blind to their own privileges have the gall to suggest that marginalized groups are better off than everybody else.

Barriers for character are falling as well. Shame, dignity, integrity, are among the things we've lost and will never get back in this nation. Obama is black, or is he white black? Who knows, but his parents were African black, and I'm sorry but when I see that blacks are still disenfranchised and discriminated against in this country I have to ask myself, well, exactly what kind of black man, or women, what kind of Latino? I never see a well dressed black man suffer any of the indignity that MANY claim they all seem to suffer. Conversely, I see all the time poorly dressed, and unclean white people suffer the same discrimination, and disenfranchisement. Perhaps it's not racism we're getting over, perhaps it's character we're more and more embracing as the gold standard in how we treat others.

Just food for thought!


Tim-
 

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The only actual event that is debatable (his point of view vs Richard A. Epstein) was when the white cotton field owner rape his mom and shot his dad in front of him.
I wouldn't consider that debatable. Black women were frequently raped in the south by white male authority figures and black men were frequently killed in the south when they challenged white men.
 

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The movie should have been criticized for distorting its own self-importance.
 
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