BlacKKKlansman and what it Says about women
BlacKKKlansman is a great film, a film that needed to be made. I loved the twists, the turns. The edge of your seat shock that this was a true story. I was moved to tears by the end, the dedication to Heather Heyer. The images of the continuing violence of the far-right and it’s resurgence in America and worldwide. This film portrays an important issue, showing the ongoing racism inherent in society, and the groups with legalised protection who feel able to broadcast their hate on a scale that they can take over an American town.
However singing the films praises is not the point of this blog post. Instead I want to look at and discuss one character in particular and that is Connie Kendrickson and why her depiction and her role as a character resounded for me so importantly. Firstly, I study the far right and specifically women involved with them. So, Connie for me was a surprise, I didn’t expect to see a white woman be cast as the villain. A role that they so typically strive for within these groups, but are not allowed to fulfil. Within the far right women are secondary and submissive their views cowed by the inflated and presumed dominance of the male. However the role of the woman in far right politics is an issue that has been shied away from. It is easier and more palatable for society to depict racism as a white uneducated male, his racism from naivety not malice. However, this is simply not the case!
The first time that Connie appears in the film is serving refreshments to her husband and his friends at a Klan meeting. Abruptly pushed aside by her husband she warns him that one day he will need her! A prophetic vision. The familiar image of women as secondary citizens within the racist right, (This is an established tradition) that will be broken by the end of the film. As the film progresses, and as the plans to incite a race riot continue without interruption. Connie is established as a racist, and a violent participating member of the Klan in her own right. The pillow talk between her and her husband centres around their purpose, to protect whiteness. Her fragility as white woman is further shown when she can appeal to the white police officers for help when being pursued by Ron. Further emphasising the supposed sanctity of white womanhood above anything else. White woman is pure and must be protected, or so the Klan would have you believe.
Connie in the regular trope as white woman, the victim, the second-class citizen to the male of the group is challenged by the final scenes of the film and this is perhaps the most poignant moment for true analysis of the right. It is Connie that takes action. She places the bomb and commits the violence that the male KKK were unable to fully achieve. Although this does not end as intended, it does not incite a race riot, she has transformed herself from passive victim of the white supremacist hierarchy, to aggressor of her own. Connie in this position is then able to give guidance of what the racist white in America looks like and emphasises that it can no longer be accepted as white men in pointy hats. Rather it can be anyone, woman,/man, educated or not. It is merely a hatred that unites.
Within the contemporary resurgence of the right this is seen in the female members of the KKK, or the women serving time in American prisons for racial violence, or the growing number of the Aryan Sisterhood, contemporary to the much more famous Aryan Brotherhood. No longer can racial violence and white supremacy be seen purely as the domain of men.