The ending sequence of the movie School Daze is often difficult to understand, especially after sitting through the scene of when Jane is supplied to Half-Pint in a painful sexually assault. Dap, after confronting his cousin on his actions, gets dressed and proceeds to run outside to wake up the entire college. He yells Wake Up over and over again as he rings the campus bell. Students and administration gather on the main quad. As they leave the buildings, the only name we can identify is Sojourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Her legacy reminds us to remember the importance and power of women, something often ignored and approached poorly by the ever so clumsy view of gender by Spike Lee.
I believe there are two ways to read the scene. One, we can view the definition of daze. It can be the verb form, where a person “makes someone unable to think or react properly; stupefy; bewilder.” Spike Lee has dazed the audience with his unresolved plots: divesting from South Africa, the high tensions caused by differences in color, hair, politics, and ideologies, and the sexism against black women by black men. Lee has taken us on a journey as an audience through the lives of several students at an HBCU. Although this was only a snapshot of their lives, Lee combined moments of pain with some comedy. Thus by the end, as an audience, we are almost confused on what to think and may mis-speak about certain scenes. For example, one may have though “Good and Bad Hair” was a light hearted scene. But in fact, discussing complexion and hair is too convoluted to just use words without it ending in a physical altercations. When Dap asks us as audience to wake-up, we are being asked to wake up from the daze created by Lee’s vision. Dap also gives us a moment to react, as the alarm clock goes off.
Another way I saw the wake-up call was as a religious reading. If we focus on movie time, it is Sunday morning. In the Black Christian Church tradition, families wake up early Sunday morning to attend church for praise and worship. Sunday is often a chance to refresh the mind and the body through service. It is also an opportunity to seek forgiveness for the recent mistakes made. The service is hot and sweaty, how Julian and Dap look during the scene. So when Dap asks us to wake, he is asking us to wake up and think about the mistakes made in the movie throughout the film. Lee may not have wanted this interpretation, but it seems to fit the narrative since Mission College is an HBCU and HBCUs share close ties with the Black Christian Church tradition. As the alarm goes off, it is time to attend church and improve ourselves as an audience.