The Butler is a must see movie. It emotionally takes you through the struggles and triumphs of being black. The time frame spans from the cotton fields of the slave days to the election of President Obama. When you look even deeper into this movie, inspired by a true story, you find yourself searching your own soul and your relationship with yourself to the world. It forces you to ask these questions of yourself, “Who am I? Who helped shape me? What events of history have made me believe the way I do?”
Forest Whitaker, as the White House butler, plays his character magnificently. You not only feel his pain, his sorrow, his joys, his hopes, but you share them with him. One of the insights this movie brings to light, is how the black butlers, cooks, and maids, of the White House, gently, baby- step by baby- step, brought racial equality to our nation. It helps you understand that you too can make a difference, no matter what your position is in life. The movie gets into in your heart and your mind, and helps you realize that you are powerful, that you can cause a change. It also shows the other extreme, the Black Panthers. The story about the Freedom Riders and the Black Panthers is brought to life by the butler’s son, played by David Oyelowo. Watching the movie closely and thinking about it afterwards, you will understand how it took both; the loud and protesting ways of the Black Panthers and Freedom Riders, and the quiet behind the scene ways of the black domestic, to bring about equivalence between the races. The dictionary’s meaning of the word equivalence, explains it all very well in just one sentence, the condition of being equal or equivalent in value, worth, and function.
Oprah Winfrey also gave an academy award winning performance. She brought to life the strength the black mothers of the children involved in fighting for equal rights had to endure. At one point, it became too much, and she turned to alcohol. Any of us who have ever been mothers could sympathize with her as she watched one son die in Vietnam for our country and the other son beat and imprisoned for fighting for equal opportunities.
In the movie, the butler’s son said, “I am tired of surviving; I am ready to live.” That is a powerful statement my friends. Our time on this earth is brief and precious, live it, just don’t survive. Overcome the fears that suppress you, watch this movie to understand how to do that.
If you are old enough you will have your own memories of racial injustice that you witnessed. In my family, my sister invited a black lady and her daughter to our families’ church in the 60’s. Our father dis-owned my sister for doing this. He said she had embarrassed him. They mended that fence, but how sad that was and the irony that it happened at church.
The movie will move you, regardless of your color, to understand how important it is that we continue to go forward in unity. No matter what your feelings are about President Obama, when you watch this movie, you will understand what his election meant to minorities, and you will feel proud that as a nation, a black man could be elected President in our lifetime. My next hope is that we will see a woman elected. That too is a battle of equality that we are still striving to achieve. Let us not forget how far we have come, and let us continue to go forward in truly believing that all men and women are created equal.