On -isms: Tears of Joy

By | Thursday, October 19, 2017 2 comments
I don't particularly care for baseball. I played Little League for a couple years back in the day, and I've been to a few professional games, but it's just not a sport I can really get engaged with. When I first moved to Chicago, I lived for a while maybe a 10-15 minute walk away from Wrigley Field and walked past it any number of times, but never bothered to actually see a game there.

Last year, it was hard not to hear about the World Series, though. With the Chicago and Cleveland teams both playing, I would hear a lot just being in/around Chicago, of course, but with much of my family in/around Cleveland, I would hear a lot talking with them as well. With both teams not having won the series in over half a century, there was a LOT of excitement around the games. Plus it went for a full seven games, with both teams performing well, so excitement kept building throughout the series.

The final game, of course, was in Chicago. The score was pretty close for the entire game with the Cubs not actually pulling ahead until the tenth(!) inning. When the third out came in the bottom of that inning, and the Cubs were confirmed the winners, the hometown crowd naturally cheered. But they didn't just cheer -- they ERUPTED IN DELIGHT!

If you haven't seen it, here's video footage outside the stadium at the moment when the Cubs won. Let me clarify -- those people are standing in the streets! You're looking at the intersection of North Clark Street and West Addison Street.
That continuous ROAR that begins about thirty seconds in is one hundred years of being denied. Those are Cubs fans who are the sons and daughters of Cubs fans who themselves are the sons and daughters of Cubs fans, none of whom have seen their home team win the World Series. That is an entire city cheering with joy.

Because of that, despite not being a fan of baseball, much less any specific team, I can't watch that without crying. To see that many people -- almost literally everybody in the entire city -- ecstatic over a something they believe in is really heart-warming. The amount of elation there, particularly in an era when we have a constant feed of awful news day-in-and-day-out, is rare. For a moment, in the city of Chicago, nothing else mattered and everybody was happy. So I cry tears of joy at that.

You know what I cried tears of joy at this week? The new Black Panther trailer.

While the trailer kicks a pretty heavy dose of ass and I quite like Panther as a character, in part from my years' long love of the Fantastic Four, that's not why I was crying. I was crying for exactly the same reason that I cried for the Cubs' win.

What the Cubs winning the World Series meant to Chicago, Black Panther means to Black America. It's not just a movie with almost entirely Black actors. It's not just a movie with a Black director. It's not just a movie with a Black screen writer. It's not just a movie with a Black costume designer. It's not just a movie set in Africa. It's not just a movie that blows apart every stereotype of Black characters.

It's all those things PLUS it's not being sold as a Black movie. It's a movie that celebrates Blackness at every opportunity, but it's celebrating in front of everybody. It's a movie white people are going to go see because it's a kick-ass movie, disproving at a very large scale the bullshit about white audiences not being able to relate to Black characters. It's a movie that shows every Black person their potential to be/do anything they want. It's Black Hollywood winning the World Series.

And that roar you heard erupting in Chicago after the Cubs won? That was 2.7 million people, the population of the city. The roar you're going to hear when Black Panther comes out? That will be coming from the Black population of the US: 42 million people. And it's not just 100 years of not winning a game. It's 250 years of slavery, 100 years of formal segregation, and another 50-some years of less overt but still palpable discrimination.

But for a brief moment, Black America will forget that police can indiscriminately shoot unarmed Black people and not face consequences. That the US Department of Justice is headed by a racist, who's actively working to roll back equal rights. That the US President routinely caters to white nationalist crowds. That white supremacists can march through the streets with torches chanting about their alleged genetic superiority without regard to who they literally run over.

I don't think anyone harbors any illusions about any of that going away, but to see something as beautiful as Black Panther succeed -- at every level -- will let Black America forget all the racist and bigoted bullshit they have to deal with on an at least daily basis. For a moment, nothing else will matter and they can be happy.

The ROAR you hear on February 16, 2018 will be deafening. And that makes me cry tears of joy.
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Matt K said...

In combination, this and "Whither Jungle Action?" are a powerful pair of posts.

I feel motivated to go see this movie in the theater, even, which is pretty rare for me.

Thanks! :)

My wife has seen none of the Marvel movies so far. Including the one I'm actually in! Not in theaters, not on DVD, not on digital. Zero interest. But this one, she's excited about already and wants to see it in the theaters at least twice!