Are Whites Flipping Out Because ‘Selma’ Isn’t About Them?
One of the things I appreciated most about Selma was the way it portrayed civil rights activism as being by, about, and for, black people in the American South. Contrary to what we may be used to from documentaries and textbooks on the subject, the movie didn’t glorify or fetishize the activists, black or white, who came down from the North, as “saviors.” There were no scenes of people boarding buses in New York. There were instead scenes of people who lived in Selma resisting in Selma. In fact, Selma deepens and adds to the popular historical take by demonstrating that the local SNCC activists were wary of Martin Luther King’s brand of activism, and that everyone in Selma was suspicious — while being cognizant of allies’ strategic importance — of the influx of outside activists jumping on the bandwagon.
Ava DuVernay did a beautiful job creating scenes that showed the truth: local people, many of them women, took a stand for their own lives, dignity and future. These are the folks who provided a foundation for a movement. It’s fiction that encapsulates pure truth, the best kind of art.