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How Jack Became Black

 Written by: Eli Steele  |   Directed by: Eli Steele |  Genre: Documentary  |   Length: 84 minutes
 Steele’s film is essentially one giant trip down the proverbial rabbit hole. A trip where he doesn’t sugar coat or allude to anything. It’s all right in your face…..
 I’m not going to write that this is all groundbreaking news to me. I’m also not going to write that Eli Steele doesn’t lean a little much in one direction, leaving an unbiased documentary out of the question. But I will say this. It’s Steele’s biased nature, that really points out some glaring questions and issues with today’s society. It’s that very one sided nature that makes anyone watching really think about what is being asked. It’s also the driving force behind How Jack Became Black, that reminds us that in truth, this isn’t a new issue arising in today’s society at all. It’s an old one. Really old.Let me write two words and see what comes to mind. Identity politics. It’s one of those phrases that sits side by side with white privilege and outright racism. Should a parent have to tick a box stating what race their child is? When enrolling them in school? And what about mixed races? How should they be handled? Or, should they be handled at all? In a world where race mixing is becoming more and more the norm, shouldn’t a person be judged on their merits and not race? In truth, I see a time where race really won’t be an issue; because every human being will be mixed. That’s just the way it is in my eyes. For now though, it’s all politics and perceived human rights. Bringing us back to identity politics. Those 2 words that are ever present and always lurking just out of public view.Eli Steele is no stranger to stories of segregation and racism. His entire family tree have survived some of the most brutal times in history. Steele happens to have white/lighter skin. Did I mention that he, himself is racially mixed? Everything starts when Steele can not enroll his boy for school; unless he checks a race box. With this normal seeming square on a piece of paper, we begin a journey through the turbulent waters of racism, white power and privilege. A history lesson, a social commentary but most importantly… that question. Should skin color matter? Shouldn’t we be judged on character alone? Why so much importance, such as not allowing a child enrollment in school, comes down to primary race? This is the story of how jack became black, and all the forks in the road along the way.

Steele’s film is essentially one giant trip down the proverbial rabbit hole. A trip where he doesn’t sugar coat or allude to anything. It’s all right in your face. Black and white, pardon the pun. This is a man who has been driven to overcome his entire life. If his mixed heritage wasn’t enough, he is also deaf. Kids can be cruel, and I can only imagine what he had to put up with growing up. Wait – no I don’t. He pretty much spells it out during the film, along with his hopes and fears not for himself, but for his own children. Jack and June. But as that rabbit hole ever expands, those watching and keeping score start to notice that the questions Steele asks are legit. As he highlights the good intentions of some of our policy makers, he demonstrates for us that these policies are actually steps backwards. There’s no denying it. It’s all right smack in your face. What’s equally disturbing is that most of this stuff we already know. Somewhere in our hearts. A lot of How Jack Became Black is common sense, but the truth of this title is it’s ability to slightly remove our blinders. Even if we don’t 100% agree on everything being said.
You may be surprised at some of what you’ll see in this title. You’ll maybe already know a lot, but see things from another perspective. Eli’s perspective. What will hit you hardest, it did me anyhow, was just how little this stuff will surprise you. Most of us talk the talk. Most of us argue how far humanity has come. To some extent we may even be right. This title however, reminds us how long the road ahead still is. It also strangely implies that we may have moved forward; but are slowly moving back. Good intentions. Not so good intentions – it really doesn’t matter until the very core of the issue is brought to light. Right now it seems that core is always in the shadows. The smaller humanitarian issues are talked about but the real problems remain hidden. In a perfect world we would all be judged on character – but this isn’t a perfect world. This title succeeds at really asking some tough questions… and getting us to really think about them. How Jack Became Black is one of those titles that is entertaining because of it’s subject matter. You can find out more about this film, and where/when/how to see it for yourself below. Follow the link.


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