chapter  6
24 Pages

We Always Die First — Invisibility, Racial Red-Lining, and Self-Sacrifi ce: 1980s

During the 1980s the urban world (also termed the inner-city, the ’hood, or the ghetto in pop culture) was depicted in fi lm as being largely inhabited by Blacks and non-White Others, and home to uniquely “Other” problems. The urban setting, writes Nama in Black Space , “became political shorthand for discussing a myriad of social ills that disproportionately affected Blacks — such as poverty, crime, drug abuse, high unemployment, and welfare abuse — without focusing on race as the specifi c source of the problem. Instead, geography or spatial location defi ned the scope of the problem.” 2 Urban spaces were portrayed as places where the schools were poorly equipped ( Lean on Me [1989]) and where school children behaved with insolence ( Stand and Deliver [1988]). Urban neighborhoods housed gangs ( Colors [1988]). These were places where murder and drug distribution ran rampant and unchecked ( Scarface [1983]), and where criminals ruled over law enforcement ( Robocop [1987]). They were also presented as places of brutal violence, rife with sexual assaults and slaughter ( Death Wish II [1982]).