Melody T. McCloud M.D.

Black Women's Health and Happiness

“42” Speaks to Courage and Racism, Past and Present

This movie addresses our past and present national psychology

Posted Apr 15, 2013

42—the movie about the life of famed baseball player, Jackie Robinson—couldn’t have come at a better time. It is a perfect movie for all people, of all races, ages and religions.

Not only is it a story about baseball and the league’s colorful personalities of the 1940s-1950s. Not only does it portray Mr. Robinson with love for his wife, Rachael, who even today at age 90, is going strong, looking good and still supporting her husband. Not only does it freely assault our ears with the word “nigger”—a word that needs to be heard in its original form and intent so as not to be misused for sport by the very people it insults [think Black rap/hip-hop “artists,” comedians and the like].

But amidst such no-good-intent verbiage, Harrison Ford’s role as Branch Rickey shows what can be done when one has vision, and courage, and humanity towards other human beings. Richey accepted a man based on his talents, not based on something as irrelevant as the color of one’s skin. (And by the way, given the annual revenue of tanning shops and products, colored skin is a darn good thing.)

But as you listen to the frequent calls of “nigger,” and realized that no, White people don't say that word so freely in public these days, I believe everyone will hear the same demeaning and degrading intent in the words and tone of others. The words may have changed, but the intent is quite clear.

I hear comments about 'friend chicken and watermelon" aimed at Tiger Woods. I hear Sarah Palin’s reference to “shuckin’ and jivin’. I hear Mitch McConnell saying that his singular goal is to make President Obama—the first Black president of the United States—a one-term president (and he said this even before Obama was officially sworn into office). I hear Rush Limbaugh and others saying they “want President Obama to fail.” (What "real American” would want the president of their own country to fail?)

I hear the constant barrage of “no” to anything the president aimed to do, especially in his first term, because they had that goal to break him, to defeat him, to work against him no matter what he did. Many opted for that approach instead of celebrating the history President Obama made, and instead of working together with him to make this land all it can be.

In the movie, I also saw one little White boy demonstrate how racism is passed down from one generation to another. It’s a short scene, but be sure not to miss it.

I also felt disgust at how so many young Blacks have squandered the gains so many brought our society. Our forefathers had to fight for all of us to have the rights we have now, but too often, some act in ways unbecoming to our position as a people who have handled slights with grace, nonviolence and courage.

This post isn’t at all a pro-President Obama, nor political article. As a conservative Democrat, I haven’t like some things the president has done, or had to do based on what he inherited. And God knows I wish he and Congress would let me get my hands on the federal budget; I’d clean it up in no time.

But the negativity and disrespect towards the president of our great land is obvious; and, even though many try to deny it, much of that current attitude stems only from the fact that President Obama is a Black man. Seeing ‘42’ might even bring that point home to those who wish to see.

We’ve often heard that it is Obama who is making the country more racially divided. But other that that one speech he made about race, only because race became an issue for others, he, like Jackie Robinson, has exhibited the “guts not to fight back.”

People have been waiting for Obama (and other Blacks in positions of power) to do the ‘angry Black man’-thing. To nut up, to act out; to show his (or her) behind. So far, he hasn’t. He has stayed above the fray. But, as in the movie, it is those not accepting of Robinson’s skin color that made race an issue. Robinson came to play ball and succeed at his work; to be part of a team and to be a part of a winning team.

This movie addresses the psychology of a nation, of a people. It demonstrates what others have endured, and still must deal with today. It identifies how impressions—think racial attitudes—get passed down one generation to another. It exhibits ignorance. But it also presents America with an opportunity to be all it can be if we can just come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, and treat our fellow man as equals.

Jackie Robinson was only fifty-three years old when he died in 1972, but in those few years (similar to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 39 years), he made a great mark on our land.

I encourage all people to take their children, grandchildren and any you know to see this movie. While it is a look back at a past time in our history, it is perfect for our current day. It is perfect for such a time as this.


April is National Minority Health Month. Living Well, Despite Catchin' Hell, a book about health, sex and happiness, with a foreword by Pauletta Washington, musician and wife of Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington; and endorsed by psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, HBCUs and others. The book includes current comparative data for Black, White, Hispanic, Asian and Native American women. The book also addresses the effects of negative stereotypes. (print and eBook).

April is also National Poetry Month. Melodies of the Heart: Poems of Life & Love (eBook with poems about love, faith, sex, death and more)

It's always a time for relationships and humor. See the latest E-Book: First Do No Harm: How to Heal Your Relationships Using the Wisdom of Professional Caregivers, and...

Medical Bloopers! Amusing & Amazing Stories of Health Care Workers (foreword by Dr. Neil Shulman, author of Doc Hollywood. A book of medical humor/anecdotes, now as an eBook.)

Copyright 2013 Dr. Melody T. McCloud. All rights reserved. Feel free to share this post on your social network pages, with author credit; and see @DrMelodyMcCloud. I'm new to Twitter, so join me.

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