A few weeks ago, I decided to show an absolutely terrible movie to the students at the ALC Fez. The movie I’m Gonna Git You Sucka is a parody of the black exploitation films of the 1970s. From the get go, this film had no chance to be good. There is something compelling about the black exploitation films themselves, but to make a parody of them? Not a chance. Add to that that the writer and director, Keenan Wayans, decided to cast himself as the star, and also decided to make the film campy…and what you have is a disaster. In fact, it’s more than a disaster, it’s offensive.
However, the film does have a few redeeming qualites. One of them is the scene where Chris Rock quibbles to buy one rib and a sip of soda in a soul food joint and then asks the proprietor if he has change for a hundred dollar bill. Rock is a genius. The other is that racism is presented in such an over the top overt way that sensitive issues can be talked about without needing to resort to the type of coded language that Americans in particular usually use. For example, when neighborhood olympics take place one of the events is a race where the boys and girls carry televisions while running from dogs. Frankly, what this is saying is that white Americans have a perspective that all young black men who live in the ghetto are thieves, criminals, and worse. So, in a sense, this film opens up a discussion.
And that was the point of showing it at the ALC. I wanted to get Moroccan students discussing racism in Morocco. One unexpected comment came up right after the film when a female student said,
“I don’t think this film is fair to black people.” She was under the impression that the film had been made by a white director and missed the idea that it was a spoof. Most of the other students understood this, but it spawned a discussion about ways to broach sensitive topics.
Shortly after this, the discussion took on the focus I had hoped it would. The students were polarized into two groups: those who claimed racism does not exist in Morocco and those who asserted that it does.
It was interesting to see that it was the more affluent students who claimed that racism doesn’t exist. Their argument was essentially that since all Moroccans are Muslims, there can be no racism because the Quran says that all Muslims should be treated the same.
The other camp pointed out that African immigrants from Senegal are discriminated against, that those who live in the Sahara and are darker find it harder to get work when they leave the desert areas, and that in Morocco, light skin is considered a sign of beauty and affluence.
They didn’t come to any definitive conclusions, but essentially they almost all finally agreed that racism is not as severe in Morocco as in the United States, that Islam forbids racism but that humans are flawed and still practice it, and that in Morocco, discrimination tends more towards linguistic discrimination with language being a major focus of class and privilege in roughly the following order from those with the most privilige to the least: French and English, Arabic, Amazigh languages, and finally African tribal tongues.
Racism and blacksploitation.