Is Myrtle Beach racist?
A documentary that debuted Friday in Wilmington alleges disparate treatment between the predominately black Atlantic Beach Bike Festival that takes place on Memorial Day weekend, and the mostly white Harley Week, which comes the week before.
“Myrtle Beach is not a racist city by any means and I take offense to people saying that,” said Mayor John Rhodes.
The filmmaker, Ricky Kelly, is a plumber by trade. He’s been going to the Atlantic Beach Bike Festival for 20 years and said he made the documentary Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches, after his friend died.
“When he passed, it inspired me, because I used to tell him on the rides back, ‘one day I’m going to tell this story to the world,’” Kelly said. “And he would listen to me rant with my frustrations of our treatment down there.”
Kelly’s film explores Atlantic Beach’s history and relationship to the Atlantic Beach Bike Festival, and features interviews with NAACP representatives, Mayor John Rhodes, and a psychiatrist.
It also criticizes the way Myrtle Beach handles the Memorial Day event.
“It’s 2017,” Kelly said in his film. “This is the South and racism ain’t going nowhere.”
The documentary debuted at Wilmington’s Cucalorus Film Fest, and criticizes the 23-mile bike loop enforced during the Atlantic Beach Bike Festival, but not during Harley Week.
The 23-mile loop has only one exit point, and bikers who miss the exit must travel the entire 23-mile loop.
“(The) loop is bullsh*t,” musician DJ B-Lord said in the film.
The film quotes Rhodes saying that there are around 30,000 people in town for Harley Week while 300,000 people come to Myrtle Beach during the Atlantic Beach Bike Fest.
Rhodes said the loop is there to control traffic.
“It’s proven that 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. is when most congestion takes place,” he said.
The film also alleges that restaurants remove electronic ordering devices during Black Bike Week and replace plates and forks with plastic-ware.
“What restaurant and hotels do, I have no authority over,” said Rhodes. “If that’s the best film he can make I’m glad he’s not in the film business.”