Get Out, the film about a black man who uncovers a sinister secret while off to meet his white girlfriend’s family, has people buzzing with discussion ranging from the humanity of Blackness under white gaze to analysis of the black identity in the horror film genre. One topic people can’t pass up is the depiction of white/black interracial relationships within the movie.
After seeing it twice this weekend with two vastly different audiences, I’ve concluded that the interracial relationship is nothing more than a red herring. In the opening scenes, Chris and Rose discuss his blackness, wondering if her parents are aware and prepared for him. Rose denies the importance of such a disclosure, ignoring Chris and his lived experience of dating out. Later, they experience a minor car accident and talk with a police officer who, after requesting Chris’s ID is confronted by Rose in the all too familiar flex of Becky privilege to defend “her man.” These cliche and well documented experiences of racism and discrimination set a tone, but don’t define the plot.
Contrary to popular opinion, Peele isn’t making direct commentary on interracial relationships, even though that appears the point of his directorial debut. After their arrival at the family’s estate, Chris, NOT Chris and Rose, is revealed to be the plot device. It is Chris’s Blackness that is the focal point, not necessarily his relationship with Rose or her whiteness.
Thanks to this creative ploy by Peele (whose wife is white), the audience is allowed to project whatever type of relationship they’d like onto these two characters. Curious audiences are quickly reminded that white supremacy isn’t generational and that millennials don’t get an easy out of dealing with its systemic inequality, a crucial lesson for Americans who fixate on distancing the past from the present in order to gain the trust of oppressed people.
Over the years I’ve retired from engaging in attempts to discuss the complexity of my own interracial relationship. Peers begin to unpack and process my relationship without permission or common decency, with zero regard for how much work it takes to maintain sovereignty as a black woman with a white man. Our children are reduced to pawns in tug of war to see if they can be most influenced by Blackness or whiteness. Outsiders have trampled on the intricacies of our relationship like muddy shoes on a freshly-cleaned carpet. Peele, whose mother is white and father black, attempted and succeeded in presenting this reality.
What makes Get Out so hype-worthy is that it makes sure to ask its Black audience, “What are you willing to do to protect your humanity?” Would you forgo love and companionship? Security? Sanity? Chris’ colorblind indoctrination battles with his will to survive against racism culminating in a finale of wills, a struggle not lost on those with intimate relationships with white partners.
As I enter my seventh year in my partnership, I don’t think I’ll ever stop asking such questions. My white partner benefits directly from the oppression of myself, our children, and my people. My Blackness cannot simply be cancelled just because I sleep next to a white man. My allegiance to myself, a black woman with two biracial Black children, is prioritized. Our survival against these odds is paramount, and I’m responsible for the survival of my culture in this dynamic. I don’t take that role lightly. And as often as my allegiance is questioned or challenged by other Black people, I remain diligent and unwavering.
I found that on its surface, Get Out seemed a cautionary tale, a warning about the dangers of Black people dating white people. But digging deeper, it is a lesson in the nature of whiteness. In their quest for their own comfort and to appease their own existence in this world, the exploitation of Black and brown people is secondary only to breathing. Without considering these truths, it asks if there could ever be hope for positive or dually beneficial race relations, romantic or platonic.
That’s deep as fuck.