Akeelah and the Bee Review
St. Joseph University
Electing President Obama as the first African American President has given African American a hope for a better America. This milestone signifies that the country may have finally transcended beyond the repulsive realism of racism. This accomplishment of electing the nations first black president encapsulates two major accomplishments. It meant that African Americans can achieve whatever they put their minds to, and that they will be judged on their intellectual abilities, and will be welcome as hardworking and law abiding Citizen; instead of being judged on the color of their skin. Despite this optimistic appraisal of racism, it is alive and well. The inspirational movie Akeelah and the Bee, highlights some of the challenges African American encounter on a daily basis in their quest of gaining respected, and becoming successful citizens of this great country based on individual merit.
The movie Akeelah and the Bee is about an eleven year old girl who is feisty, intelligent, and energetic, who grew up in a middle class working family. Her father died when she was six years old, leaving her mother as the sole supporter of her family. With her overwhelming responsibilities Akeelah mother ignores her; focusing her energy on Akeelah’s brother who is involved with gangsters, and somehow neglecting Akeelah. As a result Akeelah missed many days from school. In an attempt to avoid detention for her many absences Akeelah principal encouraged her to participate in the Spelling Bee contest, to her amazement she won the contest realizing that she had a talent that was different from her peers. Her success meant that she had to be focused, inspite the many challenges she encountered. She had to embrace her own insecurities, and prejudices, in order to attain success. Akeelah eventually went on to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest with the help of the people in her community. The movie permeates a racial dialogue that portrays African Americans as inferior and dysfunctional members of society. Racism is portrayed throughout the move in different forms. Institutionalized racism, personally mediated racism, and Internalized racism are evident in this tear jerking movie. Institutionalized racism is disparity based on an individual race. This is evident in the movie’s portrayal of African American as an academic and social underclass. Akeelah is treated as a disparate participant in the pelling bee contest. She is seen as an outsider not worthy of being apart of an academic challenge. Institutional racism is staged in the title of the movie. The movie title suggests that Akeelah is already fighting against a negative force “the Bee”, this further suggestive that she is already at an academic disadvantage requiring her to fight if she want to win (Pimentel & Sawyer, 2011). No child regardless of their socioeconomic status should have to fight for academic recognition, as a society we have a responsibility to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to exceed physically, emotionally, and academically. An example of institutionalized racism is seen in the presentation of the city of Hartford. Hartford is home to many African American and Latinos families. However one cannot compare the aesthetically beautiful West Hartford to the city of Hartford. The city of Hartford is dirty, run down with sparse investment. It has a liquor store and fast food restaurant practically at every corner. West Hartford in contrast has beautiful landscape, lucrative businesses, and health conscious grocery stores. The city of Hartford has a negative connotation, which is a direct reflection of the people who lives there as been improvised, unintelligent, and unsuccessful. It portrays a negative image of African American and Latinos. The people of Hartford deserve no lesser treatment than those in West Hartford, yet