by Patricia L. Dickson 8/17/15
When I first heard the movie Straight Outta Compton being advertised, I knew that I wanted to see it in order to fill in some historical blanks from the early 1990s. From late 1991 to January 1993, I was on an overseas assignment with the military. My overseas assignment was deep in the desert of Sinai Egypt. During those years, the military did not have access to cable television overseas. Because the soldiers in my battalion did not have access to CNN, we missed the Rodney King ordeal as well as the entire 1992 election coverage. I remember sitting in the lobby of our headquarters command at Ft. Hood, Texas improcessing after returning from overseas in January 1993, watching President Bill Clinton, Hillary and Chelsea walking down Pennsylvania Avenue waving at the crowd after his inauguration. I had no knowledge at the time of who he was (other than the new President). That was the first time that I had even heard his name.
Because I have never been a fan of rap music (other than the Sugar Hill Gang), I did not really know the history of gangsta rap music. I heard other troops talk about such artist as Ice-Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, however; I had not listened to their music (nor did I have any interest in it). I can vividly remember my fellow troops calling our First Sergeant (behind his back) Snoop Dog. Because I did not know who Snoop Dog was, I made sure to watch BET (Black Entertainment Television) so that I could see the person that my First Sergeant supposedly looked like. And yes, he did look just like Snoop Dog.
There were more white people attending the movie than blacks (the fact that it was Orange County may have been the reason). The movie was filled with profanity and the n-word (not surprising). However, the part that struck me was the supposed abuse that the young black men in the Compton neighborhoods endured from the LAPD. In the movie, the LAPD would just show up for no reason (without being called) grab these black guys, throw them on the ground, and handcuff them just because they were standing outside of their own houses or the studio where they were recording music. The white cops even called these black guys the n-word and addressed them as boy while throwing them faced down on the pavement. The constant harassment from the LAPD is what inspired Ice-Cube to write and record the hit song “F” the police. I do not know how historically accurate the portrayal of events are in this movie. Hollywood has a history of making up stuff and portraying it as factual in movies in order to support a narrative.
The movie included the actual video of the Rodney King beating and the rioting that took place after the cops were acquitted. The actual news footage of the ordeal was part of the movie. While driving home after the movie, I realized that if the LAPD harassed the young black men the way that it was portrayed in the movie, there is no wonder O.J. Simpson was acquitted by an all-black jury. Now I understand why people have said that if the jury had seen a video of O.J. murdering his ex-wife and Ron Goldman, they still would have acquitted him (in order to get back at the LAPD). If the events in the movie are true, I understand why there is such a distrust of the LAPD in the inner cities of Los Angeles.
Patricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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