If you watched Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” you know exactly who Rod Williams TSA is. Rod epitomizes the annoying friend that always ends up being right.
In the begging of the film, Rod playfully complains to Chris that the next 9/11 will be on some “geriatric shit.” We find that Rod has a different perception of who is likely to perpetrate a violent attack, that is not centered in stereotypes about Muslim identified people or individuals who are commonly stopped, searched, and harassed at airports. Rob has a sharp relationship to his inner-voice so, despite Chris’s dismissiveness, he warns him not to go over to his girlfriend’s house.
We watched as Andre vocalized his fear of walking through a white suburb at night, like many Blacks in the Jim Crow South, he knew what they did to Blacks. Andre’s concerns become reified when he gets kidnapped, by who we later find is Jeremy Armitage.
In Chris and Jeremy’s final showdown, Jeremy places Chris in a chokehold and begins counting down, “One Mississippi, two Mississippi…”When Chris finally makes his first attempt to escape he finds a metal knight’s helmet that invokes thoughts of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan- which was founded in Mississippi. The very way in which Jeremy “Wrangled” his unsuspecting victims was by placing them in a chokehold that triggers thoughts of lynching – which are terrorist attacks committed not only against individual bodies but meant to frighten entire Black communities.
Throughout the film, Chris feels his proximity to white terrorism yet struggles to make sense of the intimidation and coercion around him. Thankfully, Rod was analyzing the pieces Chris brought forth.
The scene where Rod is at the police station may be comical but highlights the lived realities many Black people face when they expect police officials to sympathize or search for their missing friends or relatives. It is important to draw linkages to the origins of police in the United States and their relationship to the Slave Patrol. Chris being missing raised no alarms or sirens for the detectives because of their proximity to upholding systems of white supremacy and ideologies of white innocence. Why would they have any reason to believe that a Black man was in danger of a white woman?
Rod recognized the severity of the situation because of white people’s history of terrorizing, capturing, and exploiting Black bodies. Jordan Peele did not have to write Rod as a TSA agent in this movie and could still have evoked the same shock factor from viewers, but the fact that he is makes all the difference.
When we think of TSA, we assume their roles are to protect us from foreign threats. There is this generalized xenophobia that detaches whiteness and places people of color under intense scrutiny. Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” shines a light on the white terrorism that goes undetected every day in The United States, in an interview, Peele stated, this was meant to take a stab at the liberal elite that tends to believe that ‘We’re above these things.”
We are far from above these things; we watched as people of color in positions of power laughed at a real state of emergency. Today we are less likely to call a hate crime committed by a white person an act of terrorism.
Get Out for many Black people is a documentary of lived realities as this film brings to the Big screen an analysis of whiteness that differs of the normative viewings that are perpetuated.