Red Tails, Are We Better Now?

Kira and Keely

We went to see Red Tails last evening, the newly released movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, an all black fighter pilot squadron.  The theater was in Colorado Springs, which is home to several Army bases, NORAD (Cheyenne Mountain) and the Air Force Academy.  In other words, a military town.  The theater was packed for the 4:30 showing.

In front of us in the line for tickets were two young men, very spit and polished in their Air Force Academy uniforms.  One was black, the other white.  Two buddies, out on a Saturday night to watch a movie that was part of the history of their branch of military service.  I would have loved to talk to both of them after the movie.

Watching a movie about flying with a pilot is a unique experience.  When Steve and I went to see Avatar, I looked over several times to see him maneuvering his hand like a plane, taking it through the turns and lifts.  We saw Avatar three times in three week because of the 3D experience.

For sure we will see Red Tails again, but will wait for the next showing at home since it is not in 3D.  But I did look over several times and see Steve’s hand maneuvering through the flight scenes.  Of course he also also leaned over several times to tell me what kind of plane was on the screen.

His take on the movie?  Great flying, great special effects, great story.

I agree.

But there is another element to the movie, the story of racial prejudice in our country, in our military, during this war.  The words and the attitude made me cringe.  These young men were risking their lives for their country, yet were not allowed in the “whites only” officers club.

I think most of us would like to think that this kind of prejudice has died a well deserved death.

Kira is my “daughter from another mother of a different color”.  She was one of my star Taekwondo students, an employee, and now a dear friend.  She has deployed twice to Iraq, is full time Army,and I am as proud as I can be of her.  I couldn’t help but think of her as I watched Red Tails.

Kira and I roomed together at The Adams Mark one weekend several years ago.  We were in Dallas for  the Nationals, which included a banquet and dance as well as a tournament.  After the banquet was over, a group of us headed back to our rooms.  When we got to our door, I realized I had misplaced my room key card.  Since I’d had several glasses of wine, I decided to take my shoes off (they were killing me) sit down in the hallway, and let Kira go get a new room key.

She came back without the key.  The lady at the reception desk would not give her one because she didn’t have any identification.  She was told there was nothing they could do for her.  Kira was teary eyed when she told me this.

Well.  I went marching downstairs, and the same lady was at the desk.  I told Kira to hang back.  I explained to the woman that I had lost my key.  She asked for identification, I told her I had none.  She then volunteered that someone would have to let me into the room and then I would have to show him my ID.  “Fine, I can do that.  Now, why didn’t you tell that to my daughter over there when she told you she was locked out of her room?”  You should have seen the look on her face when Kira walked towards us.  She of course did not have a good answer, so I asked to speak to her manager.   Suffice it to say he understand how damned mad I was at the way Kira had been treated.

I don’t know if Kira and her brother Dominic (who is serving in the Navy and I am so stinking proud of him too) experience prejudice in today’s military.  I need to ask them about that.  But if I had to guess?  I’d say that prejudice is still there, certainly more subtle than what we saw on the movie screen last night, but perhaps even more damaging because we are supposed to be smarter and more enlightened now.

Are we?

2 thoughts on “Red Tails, Are We Better Now?

  1. I had read your blog about the movie “Red Tails” (outta5 – a 3) and racism. At the time I had not seen the film so I decided to see it before I commented on it. A few months back I finally got a chance to see it with my father, but unfortunately it was a horrible print and in a substandard theater. From what I could tell, the special effects are incredible. The portayals of the Tuskegee Airmen was pretty good, but I thought the way the screenplay was written, the portrayal of the racist white service men was a little flat and hurt the overall story. I’m not in the least saying that racism wasn’t rampant then… It was before the Civil Rights Movement, and I’ve heard stories that in the States when traveling by rail German prisoners were given better treatment than US black service men. What I’m saying is that I would have appreciated a more complex and introspective look at that racist behavior… beyond just a bunch of “crackers” using the “n” word. 

    As far as racism in present-day America, anyone in denial of it’s existence is either EXTREMELY naive, or is using the denial to mask some morally corrupt sense of conservatism, or to hide the insecurity about themselves by hating others. Your personal story was quite moving and should be inspirational to anyone that has been subjected to racism either directly or as been an unwilling particiapant. Good works. Outta 5, I give it a 5 🙂


    1. Thanks Dennis, I really appreciate that 5!

      I don’t disagree with any of your comments or observations. Very well put.


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