What could be more thought-provoking than an idealistic black cop who goes undercover in the Ku Klux Klan? This is the premise of Spike Lee’s latest directorial endeavour.

BlacKkKlansman opens with an extended sequence from ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and an introductory text that promises the audience some ‘fo’ real sh*t.’ As we rewind ourselves back to the early 70s, we enter an era where de-facto racial segregation was still acceptable. Meanwhile, the raging Vietnam war echoes in the background, amidst normal everyday conversations.

While much of this story is thought to be true- it’s based on the real Ron Stallworth’s memoirs- it may be more of a fiction than certain parties would like us to believe.

Fact or Fiction?
BlacKkKlansman follows the story of Ron Stallworth, an idealistic rookie and the first black cop the Colorado Springs Police Department has ever had on the force. John David Washington gives a stellar performance as Stallworth, who graduates swiftly from records to intelligence.

“To the extent that people of color deal with actual physical attacks and terrorizing due to racism and racist doctrines — we deal with it mostly from the police, on a day-to-day basis. And not just from white cops. From black cops too. So for Spike to come out with a movie where a story points are fabricated in order make a black cop and his counterparts look like allies in the fight against racism is really disappointing, to put it very mildly.”- Boots Riley.

This criticism of Blackkklansman was penned by Boots Riley, director of ‘Sorry to bother you,’ in a Twitter post. Riley claims that the real Ron Stallworth was a part of the FBI Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) and actually “infiltrated a Black radical organisation for 3 years (not for one event like the movie portrays)”. Stallworth intended to sabotage The Black Panthers while simultaneously fighting against racist oppression.

According to Stallworth’s memoir, Cointelpro’s objectives were to destroy radical organisations, especially black radical organisations. Riley, however, suggests that Cointelpro papers show that whenever white supremacist organisations were infiltrated by the FBI and the cops, it was not to disrupt them. This was briefly touched upon at the end of the film, where the investigation into the Colorado Springs division of the KKK was discontinued, citing funding problems.

For the most part, the film is complementary to the American police force. The untrue segments of Blackkklansman appear to show the police department in a good light, far better than the reality.

“Police continue to kill black people in numbers disproportionate to their overall share of the population. Black people are 2.5 times as likely as white to be killed by police. An unarmed black person is five times as likely to be killed by police as an unarmed white person” – Human Rights Watch, World Report, 2018.

Then V.S. Now
BlackKkKlansman depicts grand wizard David Duke’s plans to lead the KKK from cross burning to politics, all under the banner of “America First.” “The United States would NEVER elect somebody like David Duke,” claims Stallworth, at one point during the film.

According to one Human Rights Watch report, the Trump administration has expressed unconditional support for the prerogatives of law enforcement officers. The US Department of Justice has also begun to discontinue investigations into, and monitoring of, local police departments reported to have patterns and practices of excessive force and constitutional violations.

Lee, who has been a critic of police brutality and a frequent fixture in Black Lives Matter rallies, has painted a pro-cop image in this attempted comedy.

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