In this scene chairman of the board tells President McPherson he has to put an end to the divestment advocacy or he will lose his donors. White donors “didn’t like the divestment mess” and are not in favor of “being told what to do with their money.” In the dialogue, Spike Lee indirectly criticized successful blacks for failure to fund black education.
In this scene, President McPherson sides with those who want to put an end to divestment. Through the use of irony, Spike Lee is showing that black people don’t have control over the so-called black colleges and universities. The power to determine what takes place resides with the white individuals who provide funding for black colleges to operate. The irony in the scene stems from President McPherson’s decision to expel Dap if he doesn’t stop divestment protest and the actual meaning of the name McPherson. McPherson means “a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause” (i.e. divestment in South Africa) and one who is characterized as excited by change and fights being restricted by rules. It’s ironic because he gave in so easily to the white supporters of the institution over the divestment issue. This irony emphasized the lack of control blacks actually had on “black colleges.”
One scene that was particularly interesting to me was the scene where Dap and his friends go to KFC and encounter the three men sitting across from them who won’t let them have the salt. The men ask Dap and his friends is they are “Mission Men” and mocks them. The men then follows Dap and his friends outside and expresses discontent with the way that college educated black people supposedly look down on non-college educated black men. The men proclaim, “You ain’t no kin to me,” and “We ain’t your brothers.” He accuses college black men of thinking higher of themselves and stealing jobs from other black men. Dap fires back at the man, calling him a “bama,” a derogatory name originally for blacks who migrate to the North, but kept their Southern mannerisms, and asking why the man has a jerri curl. The man the retorts, “Y’all niggas, and you gon be niggas forever.” Dap continues by stating, “You’re not niggas, none of us are.” The confrontation represents a larger conversation about the role of education in black life. Education functions as a vehicle of social mobility and as well as a symbol of elitism. The black people who go to college as seen as leaving behind their roots, opting for the “white way.” The black people who don’t resent this sentiment. Education provides upward economic mobility, creating a divide- a sort of have and have nots is created. It is reminiscent of something I’ve seen amongst black people who identify with Jack and Jill and those who do not. Jack and Jill is often referred to as an organization for upper middle class to upper class black people. The members are often seen as “bougie” and thought of as elitist and “uppity.” The separation that ensues causes a ripple in the brotherhood that is supposed to exist between black men. The man seeks to put Dap and his friends back in their place by reminding him that the world sees them the same as any of other black person. The ending lines, “You’re not niggas..” is Dap’s way of encouraging the man to sees himself as more than the way the world sees him. Dap fails to realize that his education is probably part of the reason that he can say that and see himself that way.