State authorities in New Hampshire are investigating a possible hate crime after a family reported that their 8 year-old son was pushed by teenagers off a picnic table with a rope around his neck, injuring him. At a cozy resort town in Slovakia where folks from the Middle East come for holiday, a 22 year-old walked up to a group of Muslims and began berating them at an outdoor café and later came back and smashed windows. The CEO of an extremely successful start-up in San Francisco resigned due to accusations of sexual harassments and lies. A 42 year-old mother of four from Akron scheduled to be deported was granted sanctuary in a Cleveland Heights church. And yet we hear epithets’ defaming political correctness like it’s a macho badge of honor permitting us to subscribe to name calling and hate.
The heroes of This Field Looks Green To Me, 12-year-olds Sadie Mae, Charlie, and Jaybird were born into a world were name calling and hate were not only present but it was protected under the law. Not only did this allow adults not to be aware that their actions could affect the lives of others in the Jim Crow society, but it was customary practice. This story is told through the eyes of the three kids and we see how they dealt with the conflict in their times.
Are we going back to Jim Crow days? Is the disrespect for one another the law of the land today? Or can we learn from these three? Can we put ourselves in their shoes 60 years ago and witness the lack of humanity they experienced? Can we understand what life was like with segregated schools, theaters, and eateries? Can we not learn from their experiences so as not to repeat travesties of the past? Can we be role models to kids today like Jaybird, Sadie Mae and Charlie?
“An Enormous Spider Web”
This Field Looks Green To Me gives perspective to our world today. We all have our own struggles and when we take the time to listen and become aware of someone else’s story, we begin the process of thinking about someone other than ourselves. In the movie’s story the symbolism of the ‘spider web’ is that the world is an enormous spider web and if you touch it, however slightly, the vibration ripples to the remotest perimeter and the drowsy spider feels the tingle.
As a society (the web) we are all interconnected and one’s irresponsible actions can have a damaging effect on others. Jack Burden, the main character of Robert Penn Warren’s All the Kings Men, witnessed the destructiveness of immorality and the bravery following redemption. If we thought the Jack Burden’s of the world existed only a century ago; look around, they are still with us.
Jodi Picoult has chosen to tackle our humanity as the driving force in her most recent novel. In her acknowledgement to Small Great Things, she says that talking about race is difficult, but that “we who are white need to have this discussion amongst ourselves. Because then, even more of us will overhear and – I hope – the conversation will spread.”
Keeping the Adults Out
Unfortunately for kids, we haven’t kept society away; we weren’t able to as Harry Hoe (a character in the movie) said “to keep the adults out.” As adults and society, we owe more to our kids. We have a responsibility to talk about race and our humanity and how we treat others.
This movie opens the door for multiple generations to do just that. Our hope is that This Field Looks Green To Me will provide an opportunity for parents and grandparents to have serious discussions with their children and grandchildren about such an important subject. It’s not too late, but we need to do this now. Right now.