by Maia Wheeler
Birth of a Nation is known as one of the most racist films ever created. It was produced in 1915 by director D.W. Griffith. Birth of a Nation, originally named The Clansman is an epic silent film taking place in a time of divided ease of a nation, the civil war.
There has been debate to say if this should even be shown to a public audience. The film shows graphic actions portrayed by the Klu Klux Klan, which familiarizes hateful acts toward African American men and women. Some say it shouldn’t be shown, as it is tragic to see the actions of the time, but others believe that it is a form of education towards historic racism in the United States.
It isn’t just racially wrong in the sense of the actions in the story, but also behind the scenes. The actors when portraying an African American would blackface themselves. Blackface is a form of theatre makeup, when a non American American person portrays an African American. It was not thought of as wrong at the time in history when this movie was made, but similar instances of racial misconduct have made news headlines as racist and offensive towards certain groups of people today.
This is a piece of history wrapped inside another piece of history. It is not only the foundation of silent films, but also the documentation of a fresh perspective on a horrific time in history. History should not be repeated for the better or worse and even though certain topics can be uncomfortable, they need to be talked about. Change happens from awareness of issues and understanding current and past issues. Hard history should be understood even if it makes a group uncomfortable, that is how history won’t be repeated and the future won’t have to revolve around issues that are recurring.