“Seeds Of Hope” are one minute radio messages offered by an Episcopal priest that send sentimental soundbites of optimism and promise to listeners. This “Gone With The Wind” seed of hope was first aired on April 29th, 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic, mind you, that is killing Black and Brown people in disproportionate numbers.
The Reverend reads: (My thoughts in red):
“In the film, “Gone With The Wind” we first meet Scarlet [Huh?] as the privileged daughter of a wealthy landowner. [You mean slaveholder?] Scarlet, doesn’t like to think about anything unpleasant, so she says, “I won’t think about that now, I’ll think about that tomorrow.” During the hardships of war [Unlike being enslaved?], she chooses not to waste time and energy worrying. Her pattern is to put difficult decisions off until tomorrow, with the hope that a new day will bring a new perspective and new insights. [You think so?] The movie ends with the hopeful line, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” When we’re faced with a difficult situation, let’s take Scarlet’s advice. Don’t waste time and energy worrying. And, if we can, wait until tomorrow to gain a new perspective and new insights. After all, tomorrow is another day.”
This is seriously offensive. This “seed” speaks to white America’s banality, ignorance, and out right indifference to our nations savage history of enslavement and Jim Crow, to the on-going racial violence that our Black and Brown brothers and sisters continually experience, to the social, political, economic and health inequities they confront, and most importantly to the on-going murders of Black and Brown people by police.
Gone With The Wind is not a sentimental movie. It is a movie that minimizes the brutality of slavery and glorifies the “Old South”; it gives credit and life to the Confederacy. It continues to shape how people think and what they believe about our nation’s history. To say “It is just a movie” is to purposely downplay the lies it tells. Lies, that have became a narrative that continues to be celebrated and promoted. The movie has rewritten history and created the myth of a “plantation life” that gets accepted and celebrated.
Can you imagine a movie where the setting is Auschwitz and the lead protagonist is an SS Commandant’s daughter? And, a scene is written where the daughter is helped into her ball gown by a Jewish death camp inmate who is wearing striped pajamas? Could that narrative really be flipped and made palatable? Why then, can slavery?
I could write a book about what is wrong with GWTW. I could challenge a Washington Post article arguing that the book and movie are still necessary and relevant; or that according to the “literature experts” of E-note study guides it has a deep moral lesson “of survival in times during which traditions, ways of life and thinking, even love and understanding are gone with the wind, such as in the South during the Civil War.” ( Slavery was a tradition whose loss is to be mourned? ) But, my point is this:
“Why did this priest think that using this movie to send a message of hope was not only acceptable, but meaningful? Could he not find another movie, book, or heck, even a bible passage, that would suffice?” Why is this okay? Where is the disgust, outrage, or insult by listeners? “
This “seed of hope” is one example of the daily affronts that our Black and Brown brothers and sisters experience. To white America, they may seem inconsequential or harmless. But, these daily examples contribute to the “just get over it” mantra offered by white Americans to Black Americans. The lack of a critical response to such moments and/or experiences contribute to the cultural climate of ignoring our nation’s past which is played out in our present: as if there is no legacy of slavery; as if racism ended with the Civil Right movement; as if multiculturalism lessons and diversity training challenge the benefits and advantages that being white brings.
And the invisibilty continues…
George Floyd was murdered by police on May 25, 2020. White Americans are finally waking up to the callousness in which our Black and Brown brothers and sisters are treated in our nation. On Saturday, May 30th, Georgetown University Professor, Minister, and Author Michael Eric Dyson wrote on his twitter page:
“If you a preacher and you don’t preach tomorrow morning about what’s going on in these streets, you ain’t sh**.”
On Sunday, May 31st, I watched a Catholic Mass on EWTN, Eternal World Television Network, the most notable Catholic television programming in the U.S. During the homily, the moment of spiritual edification in the Catholic Mass, where scripture is to be made relevant to our current lives, not one word was spoken about the brutal murder of George Floyd, the mass rioting, or Trump’s failure and disregard. Not. One. Word.
As God is my witness, I will never think again.