‘Homeroom’ isn't an uplifting depiction of the next generation of activists, it’s a depressing celebration of misguided victimhood
Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo
‘Homeroom’ is the new critically acclaimed documentary that follows a group of politically engaged, minority Oakland High School students as they navigate their tumultuous senior year as it’s interrupted by Covid and the George Floyd protests.
The documentary, which premiered on the streaming service Hulu on August 12, is the final installment of director Peter Nicks’ ‘Oakland Trilogy’ (The Waiting Room and The Force) and boasts ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler as its executive producer.Also on rt.com HBO’s new Obama doc is race-obsessed establishment pablum meant to distract from the nefarious nature of American governance
The main protagonist of ‘Homeroom’ is high school senior Denilson Garibo, an undocumented immigrant who’s an ambitious member of the All-City Council (ACC) which represents the 36,000 students of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).
OUSD has its own police force and well before George Floyd’s murder Denilson and his fellow ACC member Mica, are pushing to have the school board abolish the school police in order to spare budget cuts in other student programs.
Denilson loves politics and certainly plays the part very well. Ever fluent in the emotionalist lingo of the moment, Denilson talks of students feeling “triggered” and “unsafe” around school police, of the “constant criminalization of black people,” and that he will stand up for “black and brown students”…apparently the white and Asian students are out of luck.
Denilson and his cohort do seem like nice kids, but like most teenagers (and people) they also appear insufferably vapid, constantly on their phones and even taking calls in the middle of class. They aren’t so much concerned with education, something painfully obvious from their poor diction, vocabulary, and abysmal lack of logic, as they are with distracting themselves and reducing their attention span.
Their slavish addiction to social media isn’t harmless, it distorts their perception of reality by relentlessly inundating them with messages feeding their victimhood status and fomenting anti-white sentiment.
For example, reports of Breonna Taylor’s slaying, videos of Ahmoud Arbery’s gruesome killing and George Floyd’s murder are passed around these kid’s social media echo chamber like confirmation bias baseball cards.
This focus on white violence against blacks is further reinforced when a black teacher gives a passionate lecture about a black female former student from the school who was stabbed to death in an Oakland park by a white man.
Director Nicks never challenges this distorted racial narrative but rather reinforces it as an objective truth.
However, the objective truth, according to FBI crime statistics, is that the vast majority of murdered black people are killed by other black people. The same is true of whites, of course, as murder tends to be an intra-racial act.
But Nicks has no interest in truth, only in propagating racial propaganda that perpetuates victimhood and resentment.
An interesting example of Nicks’ biased approach is the brief clip shown of Amy Cooper, the infamous Central Park ‘Karen’ who called the cops on Christian Cooper (no relation), a black birdwatcher who told her to leash her dog, as an example of the unbridled evil of white people.Also on rt.com The Orwellian indoctrination of kindergarteners with Critical Race Theory is outrageous and must be stopped
What is interesting about the use of this clip is that Kmele Foster recently investigated the Central Park ‘Karen’ incident and came away with a much more nuanced view of the situation. Basically, Amy Cooper isn’t the entitled, one-dimensional racist villain the media portrayed her as and Christian Cooper isn’t the martyred saint they made him out to be.
But ‘Homeroom’, its protagonists and director Nicks have no interest in, or tolerance for, such nuance and complexity regarding race, only in finding and branding scapegoats.
For example, Denilson shamelessly decries the white middle class people attending school board meetings, claiming they’re “hijacking” it, and then tells a white board member he expected her to vote against his initiative because she’s white. Other minority students in the film say that gentrification, an influx of white residents, has driven them out of their neighborhoods.
Of course, if whites didn’t attend the school board meeting, they’d be branded as aloof and not caring about the community. And demonizing white people for moving into a black neighborhood is the evil of ‘gentrification’, while whites moving away from a black neighborhood is racist “white flight.”
That same circular illogic will also apply to Oakland Unified School District’s police. When they are abolished, crime will undoubtedly go up in schools, and then these same activists will claim that no one is protecting minority children.
The bottom line is that ‘Homeroom’ is the sort of biased racial propaganda that we need much less of in our culture. It’s rightfully unimaginable that a white teacher would ever be celebrated for lecturing his class on black on white crime, or that black school board members would be singled out for their skin color, or that ‘middle-class blacks’ would be admonished for attending a school board meeting.
All of this racial resentment is cheered as ‘activism’ by the filmmaker, whose sole focus is on multiple African-American, Latino and Asian students, but not a single white student, despite whites making-up the largest percentage of Oakland’s diverse population, 35%.
As someone who has worked in California schools I sympathize with the student-activists featured in ‘Homeroom’. I can also unfortunately attest that the school-to-prison pipeline is very real and that major educational reforms are desperately needed, but the hyper-racialization and intolerance showcased in ‘Homeroom’ and the wave of activist indoctrination taking hold in schools across the state (and country) are not the answer and will not lead to a happy ending for anyone involved, especially minority students.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.