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The other day I watched a movie called ‘Green Book’. I previously had no idea what this movie was about or what to expect from it. Being brought up in London in the 40s and onwards I was ignorant about racial prejudice and its effect on people. I should rephrase that. I knew about religious prejudice of course, as my mother had strong opinions about certain religions and I could never really understand this, and still do not. I had no idea how her opinions were formed or why. It was just something I never questioned. Ideally, we all want to live in a world where all races and colours get on with each other and find a way to live peaceably together, but it seems inevitable that this wish may never come to pass.
The movie is set in the 60s and concentrates on a journey taken by Don Shirley, a musical genius I have to admit I had never heard about. An extremely talented Jamaican-American, he was set on touring the Deep South in the pre-Civil Rights era. The Green Book in the title of the movie contained information on the places a black traveller could safely stay or dine while touring that part of the country. Thank goodness, times have changed. The sound track contains many tunes that were popular in that era, and added a great atmospheric background to the film. Details on the soundtrack can be found here:
The driver/protector he hired was a nightclub bouncer called by all Tony Lip, and the differences between the two men is stark. They became unlikely friends by the end of the movie. Tony’s wife, Delores, was a delightful woman who loved her man despite his brash and often crude manner. For me one of the standout parts of the movie were the love letters Tony sent back to Delores, which Don coached him on how to write.
The main reason this story resonated with me is that in my latest release, Challenging Mountains, I dwell briefly on the struggle our Indigenous Australian people suffered in the early days when settlers took over the land they had nurtured and called their own for centuries. When Tim sets out to travel across the land from Sydney to the new settlement down south that would become Melbourne, Jo, a headstrong young woman intent on finding adventure, joins him. She brings along a companion who was taken from his family as a child and sees this journey as a chance to catch up with members of his lost tribe. But after years of living amongst white folk, he finds he has lost his true identity and belongs totally with neither the black or the white.
A short clip from the book:
The native lad sat alone, his back against a solid eucalyptus, so Tim went to his side. Along the way, the boy had barely spoken more than a few words. What words he did utter could not be criticised, for he sounded as if he too had shared in Jo’s lessons and was as well-spoken as some men Tim knew who had attended King’s School alongside him. “Tell me, Billy…” Tim said as he sat beside him. “Do you have a notion of where you might find members of your lost kinsfolk?”
Billy shook his dark head. His hair was as black as the night sky and as curly as a sheep fleece. “No sir, I was told my people came from down south.” He rubbed his chin as he shrugged. “A lot of my kind have been killed, so perhaps I may never find my close kin.”
“That’s sad.” Tim meant that sincerely. He could not comprehend a life without knowing his family, or where he came from.