Handler on the set near Thurlow Dam
Handler features Tallassee in racism documentary
By Michael Butler
Folks in Tallassee are learning more about why Chelsea Handler visited their town over the summer. It wasn't because of a barbeque contest.
Handler, who hosted "Chelsea Lately" for seven years on E!, now hosts "Chelsea Does" on Netflix. The show debuted with four shows; Marriage, Silicon Valley, Drugs and Racism. The episode with Tallassee, Alabama is on... racism.
In the 71-minute program, Handler probes her own father about his prejudices and visits different sections of America to address racial issues. Al Sharpton is among the guests.
In the south, Handler sees a former South Carolina plantation and arrives in Tallassee during the weekend of the Alabama Division Reunion of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. She films reenactors in antebellum attire and Barnett Boulevard decorated with Confederate flags to the musical background of "Dixie," played by the Camp 1921 String Band.
Rick Dorley is quoted in the opening scene. "The goal of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is to honor the heritage of the Confederacy. A lot of people still stand for the very ideals that the Confederacy fought for. It was not about slavery. It was never about slavery. It was about the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, that every state has a right to govern its own. I understand what the South fought for, and I agree with what the South fought for."
She asks members of the barbeque team the Coon Creek Cruisers about the biggest misconception of the South. "That everybody is dumb, white trash," was one answer.
Handler had an exchange with Jeanna Kervin about stereotypes. "We're tired of the sterotypical idea of southern people that we're backwards, ignorant, racist. We're not racists. I'm involved in a church and we have blacks and whites that worship together."
"We have two minorities on the police force," added Ann Christian. "That says a lot for what Tallassee represents." The comment drew a potshot from Handler. "It seems like a progressive city."
One reenactor spoke on slavery comparing the treatment of slaves to taking care of a piece of machinery. "People were taken care of. Would you take a tractor that you just bought brand new and misuse it? No, because you just spent a pile of money on that," he said.
Kervin spoke more about what she deemed to be false impressions. "The beating of people. There may have been one that would do that to their slave because they're a mean, bad person, but the majority of them would not do that. They were just all a big family."
"How do you know that to be true," Handler responded.
"Because I have family heritage and I've been told the story since I was a little girl from people whose grandparents lived it," Kervin stated.
Handler asked a black vendor selling hotdogs for his thoughts. The fan of the celebrity asked about her brief relationship with rapper 50 Cent and said he liked her because she was cute.
"You see pockets of (racism), but it's not as rampant as it used to be. Saying that you were cute, back in the day I probably would've been thrown in that river."
Handler conlcuded the Tallassee piece with these remarks, "The feeling I'm getting from being here is if that's what they're like 50 or 100 years after real segregation has stopped, can you imagine what they were like when it wasn't? What I find the most alarming is the fact that he's allowed to tell me that I'm cute is an indicator of the progression that they've made. I want to live in a place where a person of every color is able to hit on me."