Important. Some films can be summed up in one word. Director Trimiko Melancon’s What Do You Have to Lose?, screening as part of the Indie Memphis Film Festival, looks at the history of race in the United States. Shows that the troubles it is going through right now are nothing new. Just have been hidden away for the most part.
Melancon is an associate professor of English and Africana Studies at Rhodes College and this film has been constructed like a research paper. I don’t mean that it is dull – quite the opposite – but that it starts with a thesis then works its way through all the support for that thesis. So well done that you can not come away from watching the film without having learned plenty.
She goes as far back as the beginnings of slavery all the way up to the presentday with killing of George Floyd and the ensuing protests. Special attention is paid to the presidency of Donald Trump. How he has brought racism to the forefront due to his tolerance of white supremacy. Some Americans believed that with the end of the Civil War and then the Civil Rights movement that racism had been wiped out and equality achieved. These are the same people who probably believe that women achieved equality when they gained the vote. And they are definitely white people. Naive!
With the election of Trump and the ensuing four years (I hope it won’t be four more) he enabled those of the alt-right and the racists to come out from the shadows. To feel empowered. To direct all the anger they felt towards different ethnicities. Out in the open.
With this in mind comparisons are made between how Hitler and the Nazis created a hatred of this type (ethnic based) in Germany after World War I. The lying, discrediting of the media and the degrading of people of other ethnicities/countries. All together in one disgusting package.
The many intellectuals (all writers and professors who are interviewed here) bring up that even the participation of whites in the Black Lives Matter protests ring hollow as most are not interested in true equality. They don’t truly want blacks to have the same opportunities as they do. Most whites are not comfortable with that or the giving up of power it would mean.
Lots here to make you think and be scared of. In the back of your mind you also know that what is going on in the States is also the case in most of the white dominated Western world. Even in Canada.
What Do You Have to Lose? is competing in the festival’s documentary category. Films are available online and are only $8, so a bargain!