We shall make this quick: recently, actor god Samuel L. Jackson sat down with HOT 97 to promote Kong: Skull Island, and the conversation turned to the mega-success film Get Out:
I think it’s great, that movie is doing everything that it’s doing and people are loving it and they’re feeling it…the thing in my mind is, I know the young brother that’s in the movie, and he’s British. So, there are a lot of Black British actors that work in this country, all the time. I tend to wonder, what would that movie have been with an American brother, who really understands that in a way…Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years…what would a brother from America have made of that role? Some things are universal, but everything ain’t
And he keeps going on about how Britain doesn’t understand the American black plight, as well as how America tends to use British actors over American ones because they’re cheaper. Unsurprisingly, this sparked a pretty big debate.
Anyways, the Daniel in question — actor Daniel Kaluuya, who played the lead role in Get Out — responded (as seen in GQ):
Big up Samuel L. Jackson, because here’s a guy who has broken down doors. He has done a lot so that we can do what we can do.
Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned, bro. When I’m around black people I’m made to feel “other” because I’m dark-skinned. I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going “You’re too black.” Then I come to America and they say, “You’re not black enough.” I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!
[Black people in the UK], the people who are the reason I’m even about to have a career, had to live in a time where they went looking for housing and signs would say, “NO IRISH. NO DOGS. NO BLACKS.” That’s reality. Police would round up all these black people, get them in the back of a van, and wrap them in blankets so their bruises wouldn’t show when they beat them. That’s the history that London has gone through. The Brixton riots, the Tottenham riots, the 2011 riots, because black people were being killed by police. That’s what’s happening in London. But it’s not in the mainstream media. Those stories aren’t out there like that. So people get an idea of what they might think the experience is.
Let me say, I’m not trying to culture-vulture the thing. I empathize. That script spoke to me. I’ve been to Ugandan weddings, and funerals, and seen that cousin bring a white girl. That’s a thing in all communities. I really respect African American people. I just want to tell black stories.
This is the frustrating thing, bro—in order to prove that I can play this role, I have to open up about the trauma that I’ve experienced as a black person. I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I’m black. No matter that every single room I go to I’m usually the darkest person there. You know what I’m saying? I kind of resent that mentality. I’m just an individual. You probably feel that as a writer, too. Just because you’re black, you get taken and used to represent something. It mirrors what happens in the film.
I resent that I have to prove that I’m black. I don’t know what that is. I’m still processing it.
So: does Samuel have a point? Or is this an example of racism against one another?