+
Most Shared

I'm black. My wife is white. We saw 'Get Out.' This was our conversation afterward.

After two weekends successfully dodging spoilers, my wife and I finally had a chance to see "Get Out."

Written and directed by Jordan Peele of "Key & Peele" fame, "Get Out" tells the story of Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a black, 20-something photographer who accompanies his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) on a trip to meet her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) for the first time at their family home. What should be a potentially awkward but innocuous visit becomes anything but, as Chris quickly realizes something sinister is going on.

From left to right: Keener, Whitford, Williams, Betty Gabriel, and Kaluuya.  Image via "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.


Before I go on, I should mention that I'm black, and my wife is white. We met nearly six years ago, and I was warmly welcomed into her family.

Immediately, however, "Get Out" reminded me of a pivotal moment that happened early in our relationship.

I had joined my wife's extended family for her cousin's high school graduation in eastern Kansas. Rows and rows of mostly white teenagers sat in folding chairs at the 40-yard line of the football field, while their mostly white parents waved and peered at them through zoom lenses.  As we waited for the ceremony to begin, I played a game I often play in moments of intense whiteness (folk concerts, theme trivia nights, farmer's markets, etc.). I call it "Find Another Black Person," and depending on where I am, it's much harder than it sounds.

That day in Kansas, I didn't see any other black people.

I've played this game for years without ever really thinking much about why I play it. After seeing "Get Out," it clicked: This harmless game is more than just a way to occupy my impatient mind — it's a safeguard. In a sea of white people, I look for a lifeboat. And "Get Out" reminded me that maybe I'm right to.

Logan (Lakeith Stanfield) and Chris (Kaluuya) meet at the party.  Image via "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

"Get Out" is unsettling, suspenseful, witty in just the right places, beautifully shot, and well-acted. It's fantastic.

The rest of this story will have spoilers, so if you haven't yet seen "Get Out," get out.

As I watched the film — from its title theme, "Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga," a song in Swahili that loosely translates to "listen to the ancestors," to the tears streaming down Chris and Georgina's faces when they were in the "sunken place" — something stirred loose in me. Scenes of Chris dodging microaggressions from all sides while Rose gaslit him without abandon felt familiar — yet horrifying — on the big screen.

I'd say it couldn't have come at a better time, but to be honest, we've needed a film like this for years. It was frightening for the same reason a stadium full of white Kansan parents and their children left me looking for a familiar brown face — sure, nothing bad will happen ... but it could.

Whitford and Keener.  Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

To put it plainly, "Get Out" left me shook. I needed to talk about it immediately, and thankfully, I had a car ride home with my wife to do so.

I needed to digest what I'd just seen. "Get Out" was certainly no ordinary film. The way my heart lodged firmly in my throat when I saw the red and blue lights approach our hero in the final scene, only to be saved by his trusted black friend, his lifeboat? I saw my worst fears play out on the silver screen. It was just too real.

The sunken place is terrifying. Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

While my wife and I are an interracial couple, we're also both women, so my experience watching and reflecting on "Get Out" isn't quite the same as what Chris experienced.

I was nervous when I met my wife's white parents for many of the reasons Chris was nervous in the movie. Did they know I was black? What was I walking into? But, as a black woman, I also had the privilege of coming to my future in-laws' front door without the burden of more than 150 years of assumptions and lies about violent black masculinity, hypersexuality, and predatory behavior (especially as it pertains to white women). It doesn't mean I rang their bell without worry or fear, but as a woman dating a woman, I know I didn't shoulder the burden of history as black men in heterosexual interracial relationships do, and I recognize that.

Chris (Kaluuya) and Rose (Williams) get comfy.  Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

When we got in the car, I turned to my wife. I knew we'd watched "Get Out" differently. How could we not?

I needed to know if in watching the film, she saw me. Not just a character in a horror film, but me, her wife, who faces fear, isolation, and anxiety about racism every single day.

We discussed the film in-depth the whole way home, but there was one part of our conversation that stood out to me because, in that moment, something clicked — for both of us:

Me: "When do you think about being white?"
Her: "When racist stuff happens."
Me: "What do you think when racist stuff happens?"
Her: "I feel bad."
Me: "You feel bad for whom?"
Her: "For whom? The victims of racism. I feel guilty."
Me: "You feel guilty after racist things happen. Did you feel guilty after watching the movie?"
Her: "Yeah, maybe a little. Yeah. It's so extreme though, you know?"
Me: "Yeah."
Her: "It kind of got out of the range of like, 'realistic racism,' I guess. Once we got into brain transplants, we're obviously outside of a realm. I feel like I felt more guilty when they were doing other stuff, the minor stuff ... that turned out to be major."








That right there — the conclusion she drew — is an important one.

Whether we're talking about Hollywood horror or real life, racism is never just small stuff. It may start with small things, like being followed around a store, having your hair stroked by strangers, or people assuming you grew up in poverty. Before long, it becomes voter suppression, subpar medical care, limited economic opportunities, and poor public schools. One racist misdeed begets another, and it all starts "innocently" enough.

Chris (Kaluuya) greets guests during the party.  Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

Punishing experiments on black soldiers like the Buffalo Soldier bicycle mission, the Tuskegee syphilis trials, the stripping of cells from Henrietta Lacks — these things don't happen all at once. They happen when a group of people is not seen as fully human by society. That's when these small things cross into what my wife called the "realm of the impossible" — a realm that black people in particular know from history is actually very possible.

That's the frightening reality I grappled with while watching "Get Out," and, while it didn't leave me screaming in the theater, it definitely keeps me up at night.

I adore my wife, and I know the feeling is mutual. But I was black long before I met her, so even as our families blend, my blackness won't.

My blackness is non-negotiable. It's not a hobby or a casual interest. I won't get bored with it one day and shove my blackness in the attic. It's here. Always. It's with me at work, at home, when I'm driving, and when I'm in a crowded football stadium watching a high school graduation.

Thankfully, my wife recognizes and appreciates that. But even on her best day, she won't know what it's like to feel so out of place, to look out into that sea of white faces and need a lifeboat. She can't. No white person can. But in that theater, for 103 minutes, a surprising and innovative movie helped her get a little closer to understanding what that's like. That's more important to me than she'll ever know.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

This article originally appeared on 04.14.17


I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less
All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16


Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

Keep ReadingShow less