The closest I’ve come to experiencing the pain of racism is when I was called “commie” by several of my fellow junior high classmates during the Cold War period of relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. (Russia).
However, that somewhat public ridicule and humiliation was mostly the result of youthful immaturity and social ignorance. Some of that may have even been passed down by the taunters’ ignorant parents.
The emotional pain, if only lasting for a short time, experienced by this Los Angeles-born child to Eastern European parents who escaped communism, not embraced it, is faintly related to the sin of racism, but nowhere near the black experience in America.
While most of the buzz about the movie Same Kind Of Different As Me by Paramount Pictures and Pure Flix releasing on Friday revolves around issues of homelessness, there is also an aspect of this true story that can’t be missed — racism.
It is not only the way the film so vividly captures Denver Moore’s (played by Djimon Hounsou) deep pain as the result of living through racism manifested in all ways, including physical, that makes the movie a must-see, but it is the way a solution to the problem is presented that goes way beyond slogans and protests.
Below are parts of the obit published by the Dallas News after Moore’s death on March 31. 2012.
Denver Moore was a feared warrior, hardened during his 22 years living on the streets of Fort Worth. He was the baseball bat-packing alpha male of the homeless when Ron Hall, a Dallas art dealer, started trying to befriend him in 1998…
…Mr. Moore was an unlikely candidate for 20th-century prophet.
Born in rural Louisiana, he grew up with an aunt and uncle on what amounted to a plantation in Red River Parish. He never attended school and labored for credit he used to buy necessities at the company store.
He was roped and dragged by the Ku Klux Klan when he was a teenager for helping a white woman change a flat tire on the plantation, Mr. Hall said. He vowed he would never speak to another white woman or trust a white person.
In 1960, Mr. Moore hopped a freight train to Fort Worth, where he lived for a few months before moving on to Los Angeles.
Several years later, he returned to Louisiana, where he was convicted of armed robbery in 1966.
Hungry and living in a hobo camp, Mr. Moore attempted to rob a bus driver, using a rusted revolver that had no cylinder. He threatened to kill the driver but left when the man said he could not get the change out of the bus till.
Mr. Moore was arrested, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, known as the Alcatraz of the South. He was released in 1976 and returned to Fort Worth.
In 1998, he met Mr. and Mrs. Hall, who had been volunteering for a couple of weeks at the Union Gospel Mission, looking to find the man in Mrs. Hall’s vision. One evening, as they were preparing to serve a meal, a fight broke out as the homeless men left a chapel service.
So, as the story is beautifully told in the movie, we are witness to the the most powerful weapon against hatred, ignorance, despair, evil, and social injustice. That weapon is love, and not the love of the world, but the love of a relationship with God through Jesus. We see love blast through real-life racism.
Practically speaking, the hope and solution demonstrated in this movie come from a relationship with God and relationships with others.
This is not a “bible-thumping” movie, however, it is a movie that clearly re-emphasizes what the Bible already says:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. — Luke 10:27
Put away your pre-conceptions of “Christian” movies. Put away the distractions of a world gone mad and go see Same Kind of Different as Me.
One more thing. Please realize that you can be part of the solution by simply going to see this movie with a friend.
Need more of a nudge? Read this: What If We All Made the Same Kind of Difference?
4 Pastors Get Real About the City – Together LA Pop-Up
It may have seemed like a daunting task to figure out what’s broken in Los Angeles then offer a simple solution.
But that’s not what four Christian leaders from various parts of L.A. set out to do during a panel discussion at Philosopher’s Cafe in Santa Monica on a recent June evening. Co-hosted by Together LA, the panel — Broken City – Is there hope for Los Angeles? — began with moderator Steve Snook of Metro Church giving a heads up to the direction the discussion will go.