I wanted to keep an open mind for 2 Fists Up, Spike Lee’s new documentary about the Mizzou protests. There’s certainly racism on campus, I don’t dispute that. But bad enough to dismantle the entire university from the inside out? I don’t know. I know Lee’s reputation as a black Hollywood director who often examines race relations. Most of his movies tend to show the struggle of a black character trying to make it in a white society, but I haven’t seen most of his documentary work. So, when he released his latest Lil’ Joints production on Tuesday, I figured I’d check it out. Hey, maybe he’ll play things a bit more down the fairway?
The opening shot is of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida. What does Zimmerman have to do with Mizzou? Not sure. From there, it cuts through a few more black persons’ deaths at the hands of white men: Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Mike Brown.
From there, the rest of the documentary essentially works as a history lesson about the events at Mizzou from black students’ and black professors’ prospectives — what started them, why they zeroed in on Tim Wolfe, the fallout, etc.
I watched the whole thing and made some notes at several key points. Here they are:
4:20 – The protests in Ferguson, Missouri come up. Essentially, the protests in Ferguson sparked the protests at Mizzou. That’s been rumored for a while, but this is the first time I’ve definitively heard someone say that.
6:20 – Can you at least put a bra on before protesting on camera, please?
11:00 – One student is sharing an example of racism she experienced on campus. Her journalism advisor told her to drop the major and find something else because she likely wouldn’t be able to make the grades (Mizzou’s journalism school is no. 1 in the nation and most students must have a 3.0 GPA to get in by junior year). Yeah, supposedly being an academic advisor and advising a student is racist? I don’t know.
15:10 – The beginning of the demonstrations.
18:00 – Our first Melissa Click sighting! YAY!!!
18:35 – “The homecoming demonstration was probably one of the most traumatic experiences for me. It was like staring white supremacy in the eye,” one of the protesters said. I… um… I don’t think….. never mind.
22:30 – 24:30 – The documentary spends at least two consecutive minutes talking about the possibility of Jonathan Butler dying.
27:30 – This poor usher/security dude. They’re clearly not paying him enough for this shit.
35:32 – “The football team is the new, modern day plantation.” Oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuck offffffff. The football team is NOT the new, modern day plantation. Last I checked, football players get scholarships and free meals and tutors and millions of dollars if they make it to the NFL. They’ve got it real bad, huh?
37:14 – Someone stating how the mass media exponentially helped the protesters. The irony.
37:40 – A protester saying, in reference to the football game almost being canceled, that it wasn’t about the money. Mizzou, by the way, is bleeding money. Enrollment has tanked and it’s closed several dorms since the protests, so that’s cool. Who needs money anyhow?
41:50 – Protesters break out into dance after successfully getting Wolfe removed.
42:30 – Hey there, Donald Trump!
48:25 – Click claims Mizzou got rid of her because she was a white person standing up for black people and that she was a “convenient target.” I’ll take the same drugs that she’s on, please.
The star of this documentary is interim UM Systems President Mike Middleton. Middleton, who is black (and it’s at least part of the reason why he was named interim president), appears on camera several times throughout the documentary. He didn’t blindly take sides in this whole thing. He was determined to talk to Butler and get him to eat, even if he had to go to court over it. Middleton speaks with intelligence and conviction throughout. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the right guy to bring this thing back together.
The toughest part of this documentary for me to watch, though, was the numerous black students describing racial incidents they’ve had on campus. There are at least three instances where fraternities or Greektown are mentioned. As a Greek member, it’s disheartening to hear. I’ve never witnessed someone shouting racial slurs at a passerby or kicking someone out of a party because they’re black, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I’ve heard plenty of “funny” racial jokes from guys behind closed doors. They’re not actually funny. Most would be considered disgusting outside of those doors, but most guys play along. It’s a culture that I hope changes. Only time will tell if it actually does.
Until then, #MakeMizzouGreatAgain
Image via ESPN