A diverse array of faces sprinkled the TSU Pavilion, gathering to enjoy the recently released film “Straight Outta Compton” last Wednesday.
The African American Resource Center (AARC) partnered with the Associated Students Incorporated Production (ASIP) to put on the event. The movie was followed by a panel discussion challenging the audience’s way of thinking about black culture, as well as by a Q & A.
The “Straight Outta Compton” showing brought about critical thinking on how the film and other forms of mass media reflect African-American communities.
“We thought ‘Straight Outta Compton’ would bring a large audience, versus a movie like ‘Nina Simone,’” said Fnann Keflezighi, AARC coordinator. “Unfortunately, that’s just the reality of it.”
The biopic follows the lives of rappers Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Eazy-E and the formation of the 1980s hip-hop group, NWA. It depicts the struggle that went into creating the heavily influential sounds that are still heard in modern music.
The gangster rappers featured in the movie endured a series of obstacles ranging from their struggles with management and money, to drugs, violence, police brutality and the racial stigma associated with black men.
Panelists included Natalie Graham, Ph.D., African American studies professor; Tyler Parry, Ph.D., African American studies professor; Chris Gregory Brown, Ph.D., criminal justice professor; and Torrell Foree, graduate student in higher education at CSUF.
“I want (the audience) to be able to appreciate and consume black culture, but also at the same time be cognizant and consume the institutional barriers and systemic oppression that produces black culture,” Foree said.
Jade White, a junior at CSUF, said she first saw the movie as a fan of NWA, but the panel made her think about the film from the perspective of race and police brutality.
The film depicts racism in the modern day and made African American history more appealing to audiences, rather than films about slavery and the civil rights era. It also localized racism within CSUF, with Compton located just 20 miles from Fullerton. Keflezighi hopes this event helps students at CSUF become more aware and ask themselves questions.
“How do films like this perpetuate certain ideas and understandings of black male identity, and then, how then does that affect the way that people treat black men on college campuses?” Keflezighi said.
The screening is part of a series of events held at Cal State Fullerton honoring African-American history in celebration of Black History Month.