American Heroes, Who Happen To Be Of Color

Saturday I took my son to the 8pm showing of Red Tails. A lot of people were very confused about seeing my toddler in the theatre for the film, and a few spoke their opinions. Okay so here is my reasoning. My son loves action films. LOVES them! My son loves planes. What a perfect way to spend the evening, by watching air planes with black heroes. Now there were some scenes where I had to close his eyes because it was a little too graphic. I also would have taken him to an earlier show as he started to get sleepy, and then getting restless. But for the most part the only sound coming out of him, was, “WHOA! WOW! COOL!” laughter and claps! He enjoyed it and I enjoyed watching him enjoy it!

When I was a kid there were no action heroes that looked like me! The hero who saved the world was usually white and male. Sometimes I could get lucky and they would be female…but always white. Not to say that there is anything wrong with that or that it was any less inspirational. It’s just that by being a black American, I know that there are Americans who were different colors and some of those people did heroic things.

I can honestly say that seeing this film made me feel 12 years old all over again! I was able to finally see an amazing film with amazing cinematic shots, vibrant action scenes, the classic heroic musical score where the good guy looked like he could have been my Papa. That could have been my Uncle Johnny up there, or my Granddad, or any of the other men I descend from who fought in World War II. More than anything, that could be my son, facing the odds and doing the right thing. My beautiful brown son could be a hero in his own way just like those fighter pilots. I wanted him to see that. I wanted him to see that there were men out there doing amazing and cool things that looked like him. I know sometimes its hard for people who are not in the minority to know what it feels like to feel like the only people you can look up to don’t look like you because you are always so use to be able to easily identify with stories, heroes, etc. Just know that it feels great when you can walk into Hallmark to buy a card for your boyfriend to express your love and there are two black people on the cover instead of two white people. Not that I don’t support white people or white people being in love, but at that time my boyfriend and I were not two white people in love! LOL! Just like I’m sure it’s hard for a black woman to give her white husband a card expressing her devotion when the there are two black people on the cover! It’s just a nice feeling. And it was a nice feeling to be able to know that when my son sees it again when he’s older and he’s playing airplanes with his friends, they’ll be fighting over who gets to be Easy or Junior or Lightening!

To live in a country as diverse as ours and to be proud of its riches & diversity but not have media that shows that is appalling to me. It’s taken 25 years for George Lucas to be able to produce a wartime action film starring black heroes! And it’s not like this was based on fictional characters, these were actual war heroes that helped this country win the war… the first war on terrorism! People were saying that audiences knew the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, there was a movie already made about them so there was no need for another because no one wanted to see another history film. But that’s where the problem lies, this wasn’t a film on a story. This wasn’t a film on the history. This was a good old-fashioned action film that had a historical element. This was a black Saving Private Ryan. Yes, it was based on fact about a war and a guy, etc. But we didn’t go to the movie to see if Spielberg stayed true to times in Nazi Belgium or if they were using proper military language. We wanted to see Tom Hanks save Pvt. Ryan. We wanted to know how he was gonna do it and see him blow up some Nazi’s in the process! We wanted an action film and we wanted a hero! And he gave us just that! But now here comes Lucas and because the story of the Tuskegee Airmen riddled with racism and bigotry we wanted the story to be laced with the N-word and black men telling the white man to shove it! Why couldn’t he just give us some action and heroes who just happen to be black? Well he did and I’m glad he did! I wish that I could have been young enough to place my poster of Lightening up on my wall next to my poster of Indiana Jones!

I’m seeing so many people talk about the story and the fact that it didn’t go into the story of each pilot enough, etc etc. Well, that’s because I think people are going into the theatre hoping for a historical drama of¬†perseverance¬†and pursuit. It’s not! It’s an action film. George Lucas said that he wanted to make a film that was action based where the heroes were black! He wanted to highlight American Heroes who happen to be of color!

If you’re looking for a film based on the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, don’t go see this film. If you want to be inspired by men of courage during a time of war and racism, go see this film! If you wanna see some amazing cinematic scenes and action sequences, go see this film! If you want to have some new heroes to identify with and look up to, go see this film! If you want to see some shit get blown up in a very vivid cinematic way, go see this film! If you want to prove to Hollywood executives that people want heroes NO MATTER what color, then go see this film! If you want to prove to Hollywood executives that as black people we want to see more films that aren’t riddled with heavy drama, watered down language & Tyler Perry dressed up as an old woman, go see this film! If you love war movies and love history, go see this film! There are about a thousand reasons why you should go see this film, and why you should take your kids! You should see it because we should all be reminded that Courage Has No Color!