I love seeing movies. Sometimes, when disposable income abounds (which hasn’t happened in some time), I’ll even see bad movies just to know how bad they are. And, when time allows, I’ll even peruse through reviews to get a general idea of what people are saying about the actors, writers, and directors.  Without fail, whenever a movie marketed for a primarily black audience comes up, I’ll see comments like this:

“Tyler Perry’s movies are often attacked by racist white film critics that don’t understand African American culture…I believe it is deleterious that white people even review black films it doesn’t make sense to me. Why review films about a culture that you don’t understand?” (Orville — Saturday April 23, 2011. 6:55am, deadline.com.)

No doubt, these posts come from a brain tilled with Spike Lee mind-plows and fertilized with Cornell West thought-manure. Is this poster implying black culture is beyond the comprehension of my Irish-German DNA? The last time I checked, humans (this is, all humans) have the ability to empathize with others. We’re able to  psychologically put ourselves in another man’s shoes. We can come to rational conclusions on a wide range of issues using logic and reason. True art touches universal truths that can be articulated, aptly by the best critics, and clumsily by…the “Orvilles” of the world.

When I was in college I had a professor tell me that all white people were subconsciously racist. This was apparently the case even with me, despite the fact that one of the men I most-admired during my military days, SFC. Lorenzo Farrow, was black.  Even though many of the guys in my platoon—who I’d willingly take a bullet for—weren’t white, I was still subconsciously a racist. When asked what I could do to eradicate this so-called racism, the response? Nothing. What a coincidence—I suffered from an ailment I couldn’t shake, with consequences of said ailment only alleviated by the public policies offered up by concerned (often white) liberals. No thanks.

Let’s accept Orville’s premise, if just for a moment. If black culture is beyond my understanding, what am I to make of the Baltimore McDonald’s beat down of Chrissy Lee Polis? What am I to make of metro train insanity rants aimed at the elderly? I hope the Orville’s of the world could see how accepting their premise would actually lead to more—not less—racial tensions.

I have never seen a Tyler Perry movie. I have no idea if I ever will. My desire to watch films starring black actors generally revolves around those similar to  Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samaurai. But if I was to buy a ticket to see a Perry film, I’m confident I could give a reasoned review as to why it was hilarious…or horrible. If you like the trailer, go see it. If not, I promise I won’t tell you it’s because of great big cultural wall of impenetrable whiteness.

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