Thursday, March 30, 2017


The Case for Black Racism.

June 2, 2015 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) The art of film has always been a powerful tool in shaping the minds of people. Magnifying an image hundreds of times larger than its actual size creates a power play for dominance in both the conscious and subconscious. Once under its spell those images are emblazoned onto the subconscious mind of the viewer and are repeated hundreds if not thousands of times. This further entrenches the message that the filmmaker intended all along.

Recently Zoe Saldana (Drumline, Avatar, Colombiana) came to the defense of fellow actor Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, That Awkward Moment) who has come under scrutiny from the legion of internet trolls who have taken issue with his portrayal of Johnny Storm, Human Torch in the upcoming blockbuster remake of Fantastic Four. The movie is based on the Marvel comic book superheroes that make up the Fantastic Four. In it Johnny Storm is blue eyed with blond hair and, you guessed it, white.

Michael B. Jordan is black.

The outrage coming from fans of this yet unreleased movie is isolated to the fact that a black man is portraying a white character (who happens to be fictional…let’s not forget that). From comments directly insulting his blackness to the more passive aggressive ones that seek to hide behind their whiney, hipster I’m-not-racist vitriol, they all pretty much sound the same. One particularly astute comment stated that “the only reason he got the role was because the President is black” (I guess we can thank the President for the slew of movies with black leading characters.)

For sake of historical accuracy The Fantastic Four was first introduced by Stan Lee back in 1961. In this country it had not been more than seven years earlier when Brown vs. The Board of Education had just made segregation in public schools illegal. It would be 4 more years before the Voting Rights Bill would pass, 7 more years before any form of a restrictive housing covenant was deemed illegal, and 6 years before interracial marriage was legal in BlackRacism-2015all 50 states.

The world that welcomed the Fantastic Four was white and undeniably male.This was the same world that, cinematically, would portray Cleopatra as a blue-eyed Anglo Saxon (Elizabeth Taylor) and Othello as an Englishman in black face (Laurence Olivier). Then, like now, there was no attention given to historical accuracy or to cultural sensitivities.

And that same overt disdain for documented and peer reviewed historical fact is still at play today, churning out cinematic portrayals of people of color portrayed by white actors. Christian Bale playing Moses, Sigourney Weaver playing Ramses’ mother and Ben Kingsley playing Ramses (all the while the distinctly Nubian cast members were relegated to supporting roles) shows an almost diabolical disdain for historical facts when it comes down to whites playing non-white roles.

But it’s the black man portraying a fictional comic book character that is unforgivable. Never mind the fact that the creator of the comic book character agreed with his casting. Oh no, let them all eat cake. Johnny Storm is white and to dare have him portrayed as something other than that is an affront to the true fans of the series.

Or so the narrative goes.

What this clearly shows is the dichotomy between being normative in a white world versus being normative in a black world. And while many white critics point to hip hop as being the black version of white exclusivity, that’s patently untrue. The hip hop movement began in the early 70’s in New York by youth who were displaced by the power structure and left to fend for themselves. It was never exclusive and has always welcomed people from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds to participate. The only requirements have always been the same; style, authenticity and transparency.

Those sentiments don’t seem to be the same outside of our community.

The world today has changed from the way it was in 1961, and rightfully so. Those characters have, indeed, undergone the same transformation as society has. Poetic license can more easily be applied to fiction rather than reality. What the weak minded often do is fall back to their version of normal. The very existence of anger that wouldn’t exist had the actor been white shows that colorism is both alive and well in the minds of people whose normative behavior promotes exclusivity.

Staff Writer; Steven Robinson

May also visit this talented writer over at; http://noroomtowiggle.wordpress.com/.


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Comments

5 Responses to “The Case for Black Racism.”
  1. I never understand how black people make a big deal out of minuscule details. Stories of fiction is cause for week long debates on whether the black character was good enough to play the part. Black women get mad at the texture of a characters hair,whether they are too light or dark skinned, complain if there aren’t enough black characters in a commercial, then cry racism because there are too many.

    I think black people need a brain, common sense and better communication skills. If we all talked to each other as if we were speaking with a white person, we’d like each other more, and more common sense would take place in the psyches of black people.

    B;lacks seem to be the only ones calling each other house niggas and coons, so there should be no wonder that it’s blacks’ that keep any kind of racism going. It’s ingrained on their psyche.

    http://www.celestewriter.com

  2. jdean says:

    Great point. I always said what you have been saying. They supplant our real historical figures and they have a cow when we play their fictional super hero characters.

  3. Independent_Systems says:

    Darrick we can never create our own “new” blockbuster superheroes…perhaps if integration never happened but since it did it won’t work. There is no interest and no market…Nevermind race dominant relations would South Africans enjoy a Boehr or Indian hero recast? Of course not it would be akward etc (if they have/had superheroes or some cultural sort)

    Still we have in 2018 Black Panther (he signed for 5 movie appearances so it will likely be a movie trilogy if the box office is decent

    Also Falcon could one day become Captain America in a REBOOTED franchise when Captain America dies. (Not this franchise of 2008-2019 The Winter Soldier Bucky will become one next year)

    A few years ago a black-latino spiderman was born when the original peter parker died.

    Star Wars is getting Finn as a LEAD CHARACTER plus the return of Lando and possibly more blacks in near-future movies.

    Since Robert Downey Junior IS Iron Man when he leaves there could be a War-Machine spin-off.

  4. Steve says:

    @Darrick Herndon:
    I wouldn’t say that casting a black man as a fictional character is wrong. The reason the comic book purists didn’t holler as loud when Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Nick Fury (who is also white in the Avengers comic book) is because it was Samuel L. Jackson. Michael B. Jordan doesn’t yet have that hubris among a lot of the comic book crowd. Did he give them too much? Maybe, and only time (and box office receipts) will tell if the casting decision was a good or bad choice.
    While the title is somewhat hyperbolic I do stand behind the fact that there has yet to be a verifiable equivalent of white institutionalized racism as it has played out in this country. The opposite of white racism therefore isn’t black racism but rather resistance. That resistance can take many forms and, overtime, has metastasized into variant forms of violence and mayhem against our own.
    Thank you for your comment.

  5. Darrick Herndon says:

    Friendly advice to the writer, this column was about Johnny Storm and nothing about black racism. I for one am tired of black people complaining about and reacting to these kinds of slights. I understand the actors response, but he gave them too much. Until we have our own, then we can expect this. Until we create our own blockbuster Superheroes, we’ll always be cast in a whitean’s silouhette and the critics will not be entirely wrong. You were right about the whitewash of “historical” figures. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m happy for Michael B and I understand the racism of the purist. I expected this piece to be about defensive racism and it’s really just a piece about a comic book hero.

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