If you didn’t know any better, Omaha, Nebraska, could easily come off looking like a synonym for whiteness. As a city in the Great Plains, Omaha is easily associated with so-called “Trump country.” And in popular culture, the city is probably best known for being the setting of Alexander Payne’s Election and About Schmidt, both of which portray the city as a place that’s populated by unhappy white men.
“…depicts Omaha as a racially diverse city that has many of the same problems with segregation…”
As though to contradict this stereotypical understanding, Clay Tweel’s Out of Omaha depicts Omaha as a racially diverse city that has many of the same problems with segregation as Baltimore and Chicago. Between 2010 and 2017, Tweel followed and filmed Darcell and Darrell Trotter, two African-American twins who hail from Omaha’s predominantly African-American northern section. Tweel then edited his footage down to this 93-minute documentary, which aspires to turn the Trotters’ story into a metaphor for systemic racism in America.
Parts of the film admittedly don’t work as well as Tweel would like. At times, for instance, he includes interview footage of a lawyer who talks about poverty, racism, and the way they affect the black community in Omaha. Persuasive as they are, these parts of the film feel a bit redundant. They use mere words to describe things that are already illustrated by Tweel’s depiction of the Trotters’ daily life.
"…has the kind of nuance and intelligence that our public discourse could sorely use."