To Sir, With Love

3 thoughts on “To Sir, With Love”

  1. The movie came out while I was a young high schooler, maybe age 13 or 14. My parents being liberals, and my father a college teacher, they scooped me up and off we went to the drive-in movie theatre to see it. Drive-ins were once a popular low-cost way for families to see movies, and couples to make families…rather infamously! You simply piled everyone in the car and drove to the theatre–a large parking lot in front of a giant open-air movie screen– parked in a spot that had a wired connection for speakers that clipped to your car windows, and pushed a button that summoned a teenager on roller skates who took your money and brought you back sodas and popcorn. Thus we got to watch Sidney Poitier give his stunning performance. It was such a relief to see him portraying a respected teacher rather than an escaped slave being tied to a post and horsewhipped. Film roles for blacks were very limited in the ’60’s!

    Funny how ethnic groups like to change how they’re addressed with the generations. At the time that book was written, Negro was the polite term. I believe it replaced “Colored,” which you saw used in “The Help.” Then in the 1970’s came the Black Power movement, and “Black” was the ONLY term…life and limb were at risk if you said “Negro!” Now it’s usually safe to say “African American,” but sometimes that backfires. Mainly there’s a hostile separatist feeling in the black community, even though we have had a black president for the last eight years, and blacks are given preferential college admissions and other encouragements to take their place in the fabric of society. Something the disenfranchised classes in India can only dream of, for now.

    I enjoy reading your thought-provoking reviews!

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    1. I don’t see the need to refer to anyone by any term that refers to their skin color. We’re just people after all.

      True, there has been a lot of discrimination based on people’s castes in India, but that has changed considerably, though it still might be prevalent in the remote rural areas. But the backward castes have a lot of facilities provided for them – reservations for education and jobs, representation in the Parliament, etc. Backward castes are not so backward anymore in India. Things have changed a lot. The only problem is, sometimes people from the general castes have to suffer a bit because sometimes undeserving candidates from backward classes take advantage of these provisions and those who truly deserve them are left behind. Only those who haven’t changed with time are still practicing age-old practices of discrimination.


    2. Yes, I have a Brahmin friend who was denied a place in medical school even though he had perfect marks, because of reserved places for backward castes. He did eventually become one of India’s most renowned Ayurvedic physicians. One of my jobs in medical school was teaching Affirmative Action ( given preferential admission) medical students (black) who did not have the basic coursework expected of non-black students, in other words would never have been admitted, had they been from the “advantaged” classes. Some of these students were really talented and did well catching up, graduated with their class, and joined the profession. Some of them were truly frightening. I don’t know of any who were let go; it would have caused a huge political row. So I don’t have any pity for those who scream “racism!” in America. There are jobs that go unfilled because they would rather be on welfare or involved in crime. In my job as an emergency physician you see the real underbelly of society, those parts that the mainstream would rather color differently.

      American blacks have had their freedom since 1865, and many have distinguished themselves as members of society. Unfortunately the current generation fails to see the extraordinary progress they have made–don’t we have a black president, for god’s sake??? Instead of paying attention to their studies and making good lives for their families, they insist they’re downtrodden and refuse to take the hands that are extended to raise them up. It aggravates me to no end, because it’s totally unnecessary! I come from a tiny ethnic minority that has been enslaved numerous times over the course of history, has survived numerous attempts at genocide, and we still have the greatest number of Nobel laureates in the world. Why? Because we refuse to give up. We don’t whine. We pick ourselves up and go back to work every time we find ourselves face down in the mud. It’s time American blacks took responsibility for their own betterment! I often think that if Martin Luther King could see what his people have become, he would revolve very rapidly in his grave!

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