"SM: Looking at both of those characters, I feel the same way about race. Having grown up in white suburbia, I wasn’t forced to think about those issues very often, but if you’re thinking about the conversation you have to have in your head when you begin to think about race, there has to be that part of you that rallies out against it, in the way that Micah does, and there has to be the part of you that doesn’t necessarily want to deal with it, that part that just wants to look at the progress and wants to move on in the way that Jo’ does. For me that worked, because like you said, these volleying thoughts happen in your own head.
I was watching a few days ago, and it’s also set in San Francisco and also about race relations, which is why I’m thinking of it, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Spencer Tracy’s character in the film mentions that only 12 percent of the city at that point was black American, and this 1967. And, so I was thinking about that film and thinking about this film and wondering what it is about San Francisco that makes issues of race fluster up.
BJ: I honestly cannot say. It’s just one of those things, just something you notice. Obviously, only 6.5 percent of the city is African-American…It’s funny when I was describing the film to someone, I was saying how both of the main characters are African-American, but the film never sets foot in any of the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of the city. I think that’s because the film is more about class than it is about ethnicity. It’s just that Micah is so obsessed with it that that’s what he brings to the story.
I have these conversations a lot where we talk about the middle class, and how in San Francisco there really is no representation of the African-American middle class. And, so a great deal of the African-Americans in the city are living below the poverty line, and they’re wedged into these small sections of the city, and these sections are contained onto themselves. They don’t really get to participate in the city, and I think that’s why for the African-Americans that don’t live in those enclaves, then you really start to notice. You walk around, and you can literally walk twelve blocks and not see another black person. It’s a really interesting thing, and it’s not something you notice until you do it enough times, and you go, “Wow, every day I walk fifteen blocks, and I never see another black person.” It’s just one of those things, slowly, over time, maybe it starts to manifest itself in the back of your head, a certain kind of paranoia that I can’t really describe that I began to feel and that thoroughly got me more and more into the script."
Read the rest here.