Update since the update: show cancelled!
Reflections from folks who have read this piece:
- There needs to be a distinction made between ignorant white folks and the KKK which is a terrorist organization that called black people nigger, burned homes and churches, and continues to traumatize black folk through systemic racism.
- If this show was done right, it could have been powerful.
- It’s an interesting take on a controversial topic.
Oversights in my earlier post, revision made 12.23.2016
- Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America originally titled Generation KKK is intended for an educated audience and to educate
- The series is an eight part documentary, those appearing in the show are not be paid
- A+E has partnered with the following organizations to expose the hate:
- Color of Change
- Anti-Defamation League
- The obscurity of the original title was not intended to trick audiences into watching
Generation KKK criticism has hit media by storm, and I have found myself on a different side of the virtual fence. After watching the 8-minute trailer the word that crossed my mind was incredible. If you hold the belief Generation KKK is White America’s way of normalizing White Supremacy, I ask you to keep reading on, hear me out. I won’t have a call to A+E moment at the end of this post where I ask you to watch the show or anything else the network produces. Frankly, you might not be A+E’s audience which is important to consider if you’re going to hold hand to fire.
To criticize Generation KKK
My skin crawls when I see members of the KKK on television or YouTube giving interviews about White Power. As far as I’m concerned, David Duke is the devil incarnate. Generation KKK is not asking us to see the humanity in Devil Duke or his minions.
Generation KKK follows a network of peace activists as they work to break the cycle of hate in Ku Klux Klan families. We are introduced to Daryle Lamont Jenkins, a black man and anti-racism activist, who partners with two white men who once hated the very fact that he was born. Slow down there, I won’t drop that Trevor Noah let’s hold hands with our oppressor line. Byron Widner and Arno Michaelis had to work on themselves. Jenkins may have played a role in helping them recognize the humanity in non-whites, but he is not their black savior. According to A+E’s website, Widner and Michaelis left their skinhead ways behind for the sake of their children.
Black people aren’t here to correct White Supremacy
A lot of us black folk often say it is not our job to comfort and teach racist white folk to love us. One of my dearest friends, Josh (click here to follow his blog), who was born and raised in the south often echoes that sentiment when the lets all hold hands and teach each other side of my humanitarian shows its head. Ultimately, I agree with him although I’d add that I often personally choose to be the teacher. I was not born in America and haven’t endured 400 years of oppression in the same way Southern Black folk have, so I am not faced with the same kind of generational anger when a white person approaches me in ignorance. Explaining what I mean there would take another post, so let’s move on.
Generation KKK has brought on two white men who once drank the devil’s nectar as the saviors who will need to rip the demon out of White Supremacists. They are responsible for casting out the evil, not black folk. Jenkins cannot be erased from the show, but it would be a very different series if it were a cast of three black pastors walking around Mississippi trying to get White Supremacists to love our humanity.
Furthermore, A+E is popular for shows like Duck Dynasty, Longmire, and American Hoggers. Do you think black people watch that shit?! Probably only if they’re interning at the network for a summer and have to pull quotes, but otherwise no. The point is, people of color are not who those shows are made for. People of color do not overwhelmingly watch American Hoggers. When Daddy Duck Dynasty made a homophobic comment, was Duck Dynasty cancelled — no. Why? Because the LGBTQ community does not overwhelmingly watch that shit. Those shows are not meant for those living on the edges of the map and neither is Generation KKK.
Could one argue that since the network has an overabundance of intelligent folks, they should approach reality television differently. Perhaps, but that’s also a different post that would require an insertion of capitalism.
A+E is not responsible for the uprise in racism
I might sound like an A+E apologist here, but the network is not responsible for racism in America. However, one could argue, it is perpetuating and normalizing it with Generation KKK. I push back on that.
The KKK exists and that reality cannot be ignored. It has its audience in the same way Joel Osteen has a flock of folks who believe in Prosperity Gospel. The Generation KKK trailer is obscure at best. It’ll bring middle America to their television sets, but within minutes they’ll get a weird feeling in their bellies. What they’ll see is a 14-year old girl distraught and confused about her identity because of her father’s involvement in the KKK. They’ll see that this, in fact, is not normal. After-all, this is White Supremacist Mississippi, so it might take them more than a minute to come to this conclusion. So maybe the scene that will do it is seeing a Klan leader train the next generation. They might quickly realize that said Klan leader could be talking to three nephews and not an army of young men. I mean, the scene is almost laughable. The Klan uses the same tactics that has worked wonders for ISIL, but instead they’re left with a television series where immediate family members cannot agree that the organization has a purpose.
Whether it is realized or not, Generation KKK will not be a celebration of the organization. After watching the trailer, I believe the show will ridicule while placing a mirror in the hands of White Supremacy. It will force white folks who drink that devil nectar to toil with their identity in the same way people of color are forced to question ours daily. And the best part in all of this, you ask, we are leaving white people to do their own learning and teaching.
Watch the trailer:
About the show:
In Generation KKK, cameras follow four prominent Klan families who each have a family member trying to escape the Ku Klux Klan. This series pulls back the curtain on the organization that the Anti-Defamation League calls “a racist, anti-Semitic movement with a commitment to extreme violence to achieve its goals of racial segregation and white supremacy,” to show its effects on American families as member’s grapple with the consequences of leaving.
The series follows four families: an “Imperial Wizard” who hopes to groom his teenage daughter to take his place; an Iraq war veteran and proud member of the KKK determined to raise his four-year-old son to embrace his views; a young man who sees his close friend and Klan leader as the father he never had, asked to pledge his loyalty to the KKK; and a fifth-generation Klan family struggling to keep up the legacy.
The series will also follow a network of anti-hate and peace activists working to break the cycle by helping to convince members to leave the hate group. The team consists of Daryle Lamont Jenkins, the co-founder of One People’s Project, an organization that monitors and investigates hate groups; speaker, author and peace educator Arno Michaelis, a former skinhead who joined the white power movement at the age of 16; and Bryon Widner, a reformed Neo-Nazi and subject of the documentary Erasing Hate, who spent sixteen years as a skinhead until he realized the environment wasn’t best for his son. These activists develop deep relationships with Klan families attempting to convince them to hang up their robes and finally leave the group for good.
Taken from: http://www.aetv.com/shows/generation-kkk