Far From Heaven

With only 18 days to go and 6 movies to see before the Oscar winners are announced on March 23rd, I decided to the brave the elements and go to the movies. Hey, what’s a little snow when I’ve got a deadline to meet? In any event, I saw Far From Heaven a delightfully little movie about a 1950s housewife (Julianne Moore) who walks in on her husband (Dennis Quaid) having an affair with a man. Ooops! While they try to hold it together, Julianne’s character turns to their black gardener (Dennis Haysbert) for support. This forbidden friendship ultimately causes tension in their conservative community in suburban Connecticut. The story is beautifully told and the cinematography is just amazing. But I had a good chuckle when Dennis’ character screams at Julianne’s character that her friendship with the black gardener is going to ruin all he’s done to build up the reputation of the family. What a hypocrite. I’m thinking his homosexual relations would have probably been more scandalous in those days. Oh well!
At one point in the movie, Julianne’s character questions the gardener about what it likes to be the only “negro” in the room. For me, that was a pivotal moment. I’ve been thinking a lot about this very issue. I’ve even tired to discuss with friends but they don’t really understand where I’m coming from. I can’t really blame them though…they’re all white. Whenever I go out, I’m often the only black person in the room. That’s really sad considering I live in a major metropolitan area like Chicago. I often play this game with myself where I scan the room and try and count the number of black people. Usually I can do it on one hand. So, I’m getting more self-conscious. Part of it is the weight thing…but the other half relates to race. Sometimes, I feel like a freak on display. Weird – but true. I’m trying to think of ways to have a more diverse pool of friends, but it’s tough when I didn’t grow up in Chicago. Plus I live in a white neighborhood, go to a relatively white church, hang out with Michigan alums who are mostly white and work at a company that has only 2 other black people on staff. My best guy friend (who is white) tells me I need to seek out social organizations that are more diverse. I already knew that. But I never really acted on it. Seeing that I’m finally ready for a change, I’ll do some research to come up with a few organizations to explore. I’m so ready to shake things up a bit. I don’t want to get rid of my white friends, I just want to be around a more diverse group. I need more black people in my life.

3 Comments
  1. I haven’t seen “Far From Heaven,” but hope to soon. My understanding is that it owes a lot to films like “All That Heaven Allows,” in which widow Jane Wyman falls in love with the much younger and blue-collar Rock Hudson. The party at his place where she meets all of the others town’s “outcasts” is a classic and poignant.
    I obviously can’t say I know how you feel when you’re the only black person at a social gathering. However, I did experience a slight taste of such a feeling back in college once. One quarter, the black history class I was taking got the chance to travel by train to Chicago over Thanksgiving break and take a tour of Malcolm X College, Johnson Publications and the Daily Defender. The professor knew someone in the travel biz, and we got a great deal on Amtrak tickets and rooms at the Midland Hotel.
    I wound up being the only white kid who went along. When we got back, a couple of the other white kids wanted to know the details. They apparently expected to hear that we’d stayed in the projects or something and had experiences right out of “Good Times.” They were disappointed when I said that we’d stayed in a nice hotel, toured some cool businesses (as a journalism major, I really liked the stops at the Defender and Johnson Publications), all went out to some nice jazz clubs, and then had Thanksgiving dinner at someone’s aunt’s house in a middle-class neighborhood and what we ate was the same stuff as my mom made. It was a valuable experience for me — and I often reflect upon how those complete strangers made me feel welcome.

  2. I know exactly how you feel about being the only Black person in the room. I’m used to it now. When I was a youth, I grew up in a mostly Black neighborhood. I was sent to a mostly white private school. My parents made sure my sisters and I were exposed to wide variety of experiences and we were often the only Black folx on many occassions. I guess I’ve grown with it. I’m desensitized.
    Until lately. Now I’m starting to notice again. Especially with how much I travel (5 days a week away from home).
    When you find these more diverse outlets, write an entry about it. I’d be very interested in what you find.

  3. I use to be fine with it and to some degree I still am. But I’d like things to be different. I want to see more people of color. The price of upward mobility should not be loosing touch with ones culture.

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