Red Tails And House Of Lies: An Education On Race And Race Relations

January 23, 2012
Written by Janice S. Ellis... in
Latest News, Race Relations
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Red Tails, a movie about the heroic efforts of an all black Air Force unit. Photo Credit:

While the movie, Red Tails, which premiered in movie theatres across the nation this weekend, is about an all black Air Force unit that flew successful air strikes in World War II, it is not a lesson just for black Americans, but all Americans. It depicts the journey of black men who were well trained and proud to fight for their country, even though they were not perceived or treated as equals by the very country and countrymen for whom they willingly risked their lives.

George Lucas, the director best known for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, collaborated with another noted filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, to produce and finance the film. Even in 21st Century America, Lucas found it very difficult to get support from major studios because those studios expressed concern that a primarily black cast about a black subject — albeit about bravery and heroism — would not have broad audience appeal either here at home or abroad.

That perception did not deter Lucas. He was determined to get it to the big screen. It is a great portrayal of triumph over racism and a sobering reminder that there is so much more to be done to eradicate racism and all of its ugliness.

Red Tails is not just a movie for black Americans, and its premiere is not just because we are approaching Black History month. Hopefully, its content will be a good lesson for all Americans.

Another great opportunity to learn about race, racism, and the commonalities we share — the good, and not-so-good — will be with the new Showtime series, House of Lies, which stars black actor, Don Cheadle. He plays a ruthless management consultant as he confronts racism in the business world. The series is on Sundays on Showtime, it is billed and commended for taking on the elephant in the room. It promises to address race, racism, and racial situations like no other. It is not about being colorblind or race-neutral.

Whether it is Red Tails, House of Lies, or a TV sitcom, good book, theatrical play, music, food, sporting events, or some other everyday experience, there are so many opportunities to learn more about each other. We can venture out of our comfort zones and go to a movie, a live performance, a restaurant, or worship service to learn first-hand, close-up and personal. Or, we can remain in the comfort of our own homes, with friends or colleagues. But there are so many, many ways we can become acquainted or re-examine old perceptions and misperceptions.

Those are the real lasting lessons about race and race relations that big screen films like Red Tails and TV series like House of Lies offer as we go about our daily lives. As we work to rid our society of the unwarranted and unnecessary negative impact and by product of perpetual racist attitudes and practices, we should embrace those efforts of enlightenment.

Latest News, Race Relations


Its incredible that two

Submitted by CSULB-EPineda42S2012 on

Its incredible that two critically acclaimed movie directors were still rejected by major studios because of the casts race. Even though we seem we have grown in different area's as a nation, it is still evident that race plays a huge role in today's society. The opportunity to reach a new plateau of equality is right around the corner. If people take the time to want to appreciate and respect each other regardless of skin color or culture, we could all grow.

Red Tails and House of Lies

Submitted by CSULB-VDailey19S2012 on

I agree. We need to keep insisting and continue to talk about race. It is sad to hear that major studios didn't want to support this movie because it was not appealing to audiences abroad. It is hard to believe that this was the real reason for these studios to deny support. I am glad that Lucas persist and I heard that he financed the advertisement out his own pocket to promote this movie. He is a good example of how racism is still very alive in this country. We need to support initiatives like this and continue the talk about race. I will definitely check out this House of Lies. We can all learn from this.

To me this isn't surprising

Submitted by CSULB-29F2012 on

To me this isn't surprising at all. Working in the industry its easy for studios to reject ideas based on the race of the cast. It happens often. But this is not a one sided street, it happens to white actors as well. Plenty of films have had to recast due to the white persons status no being there. This is more about the status of the person of color. If you look at 'House of Lies' the show definably covers racial issues in every episode, it is strongly builds the conflict per episode. I love the show and I enjoy watching it for the reasons that it covers race in a very interesting way. Back to Red Tails, I saw the film and I can also say there is something not being looked at when it comes to this film. Its a historical piece. Historically films like this have never done well, now there are exceptions "Saving Private Ryan" and "Pearl Harbor" two name two are exceptions. True those films had huge names behind them as did Red Tails, but if you look at history you'll find that films of this nature are generally hard to fund.