Based on the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson, the movie “Origins” tells the important story of the racism and caste system in place in the United States that’s been here for longer than many of us have been.
Directed and co-written by Ava DuVernay, this film starred Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as Isabel Wilkerson. Other actors in the film include Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Niecy Nash-Betts, Nick Offerman, Blair Underwood and Chicago’s own, Lennox Simms.
For those unaware, a caste system can be defined as “an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources,” according to NPR.
It’s more than just racism. It’s literally a system where Black people are set up to lose because they’re at the bottom of the totem pole compared to their white counterparts rising to the top.
Origins brings light to all of this. The senseless murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman was something highlighted to represent the caste system in America. Another segment that stood out was the Al Bright story. Bright, played by Simms, was a young baseball player who just won the little league world series. When the team won everyone celebrated with him, colored and non colored. All were viewed as equals until Bright was invited to a pool party and they wouldn’t let Bright swim with the whites.
“I definitely did enjoy [the film]. I learned that the way that Germans handled the Holocaust it was inspired by the way that white people treated Black people and how the laws based around slavery and after slavery inspired the way Nazis treated people,” said Cayen Martin, a freshman at Columbia College Chicago. “That was something I didn’t even know, so hearing that from a movie, it changes my perspective on a lot of different things.”
For a movie to be informative and enjoyable enough for me to want to read the book that it was based upon is amazing. Movies usually don’t do the books as much justice as they should, but this film was an exception. I would encourage everyone to see this amazing and beautifully filmed piece.
By Cierra Lemott, Columbia College Chicago Aumni
Instagram: @cece.kodak / @kodakscamera
*Christopher Lockridge contributed to this article.
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