Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America

Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America ★★★★

In contrast to BlacKkKlansman, which succeeds through its righteous anger and humor when it comes to exposing systemic racism and the idiocy of the white supremacist mindset, Accidental Courtesy, directed by Matthew Ornstein, prefers to talk things out. Literally. 

Ornstein trains his lens on Daryl Davis, a semi-famous blues musician who has rubbed shoulders and played alongside the likes of B.B. King and Chuck Berry. These days, however, Davis is more so known for his unique anti-racism tactics, specifically infiltrating the KKK, or more so, the minds of Klan members to see what makes them tic. By doing so, Davis’ cordial and comforting style has allowed him to create a host of friendships and allies with people who are supposed to hate his guts. Davis has even convinced a good number of Klan members to hand in their robes, with many completely disavowing their former lifestyle. 

The courage that Daryl Davis shows in this film is extraordinary. He travels into the belly of the beast and comes out unscathed, oftentimes with a robe in hand or some other piece of memorabilia that is a symbol of a Klan members penance, friendship, or respect. We all know that white supremacy and it’s tenets make no sense, but it’s amazing how humanized and regular they seemed while engaging in conversation with Daryl about conversations directly about race or any other subject. I’ve never felt less angry in the presence of a Klan member than I did while watching this film. It was a really weird feeling. 

The film has its share of moments however where the intensity is dialed up and Davis is sent reeling due to being confronted about his methods. A confrontation with several Black Lives Matter activists turns fiery and is a stark contrast to the more congenial convos that take place between Daryl and the Klan. The documentary is worth watching just for this part alone. 

If you’ve already seen Black Kkklansman I highly recommend this film as it explores a different path towards racial healing while exposing the cluelessness that informs many of the individuals that Davis and Stallworth have engaged with over their careers.

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