A new video essay explores the role played by films such as Jordan Peele’s acclaimed social horror-thriller “Get Out” in the portrayal of racial relations in America. The video, posted on the YouTube channel Like Stories of Old, starts by explaining the concept of “white fragility,” a term coined in a academic paper written in 2011 by Dr. Robyn D’Angelo. It refers to “American white people living in social environments that protect and isolate them from race-based stress, providing them with racial comfort but also lowering their tolerance racial pressure.”
“Get Out” follows the story of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young black man who has been dating a white girl, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), for five months. When Rose takes Chris to meet her parents (played by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) — who seem totally normal at first — it isn’t long before Chris starts to get creeped out by everything happening at the Armitage estate. In the middle of it all, Chris also wonders if these things are really happening or everything is simply a product of his own paranoia.
According to the narrator, “the larger social environment still contributes to the racial isolation and protection of whites as a group in many ways, one of which is through movies.” The essay presents Raoul Peck’s documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” as another example, arguing that, like Peele’s film, it “doesn’t just address the more well-known forms of racism and racial prejudice, but also focuses on the more progressive, well-meaning liberal whites and how they contribute to silencing voices from people of color, leaving them trapped in the sunken place.”
In a March 17 tweet, Peele explained that “The Sunken Place means we’re marginalized. No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us.” Watch the “Get Out” video essay below.