New Perspectives on James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man ed. by Noelle Morrissette (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-02-26 02:18Z by Steven

New Perspectives on James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man ed. by Noelle Morrissette (review)

African American Review
Volume 51, Number 4, Winter 2018
pages 344-346
DOI: 10.1353/afa.2018.0049

Masami Sugimori, Associate Professor of American Literature
Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida

Ed. Noelle Morrissette. New Perspectives on James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2017. 272 pp. $59.95.

More than a century after its initial publication in 1912, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson continues to generate commentary. The narrator’s racial passing, along with the novel’s twist of genre through “passing” for an autobiography, has led much scholarship to address the issues of race and narrative. At the same time, with the advent and development of new critical and theoretical approaches, more and more topics (pertaining to the literary climate around Johnson’s composition, the novel’s intertextuality with other works both within and outside of the era, and the sociocultural contexts of the early twentieth-century U. S., to name just a few) have arisen and enriched our inquiry. Meanwhile, the novel itself has gone through numerous editions—including, but not limited to, those published by Alfred A. Knopf (1927), New American Library (1948), Vintage (1989), Penguin Books (1990), Library of America (2004), and recently, by W. W. Norton as a Critical Edition (2015)—which attest to its increasingly canonical status in American literature. New Perspectives on James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man—the first critical anthology devoted entirely to the novel—is a timely addition to this evolution of Johnson scholarship and readership, featuring both established and innovative strategies for analysis and interpretation.

Editor Noelle Morrissette’s Introduction defines New Perspectives as a product of the ongoing critical history of The Autobiography, on the one hand, and as an embodiment of the “futurity” that explicitly or implicitly informs the novel, on the other. While offering “new perspectives” in their respective ways, the essays in this collection attend productively to the accumulated scholarship that Morrissette surveys in terms of topical trends: Johnson’s authorial achievements and the novel’s documentary values (1960s and ’70s); its intertextuality with African American narratives (late 1970s and early ’80s); modernity, modernism, and racial identity (1990s); and transnationalism, performativity, music, and sound (since 2000). These essays also share an emphasis on the visions of the future Johnson embedded in the novel—not only as an extension of his careful assessment of the contemporary U. S., but also in his resistance to the nation’s racial regime, which denied blacks a legitimate history or a sense of teleological progression in time. Thus, Morrissette designs her anthology to conduct “a reassessment of the author’s writing and legacy and the racial futurity he called for, to which we continue to respond” (15).

These guiding principles also account for the section organization of New Perspectives, with its ten chapters and an Afterword assigned to four parts according to topical focuses. The three essays in part one, “Cultures of Reading, Cultures of Writing: Canons and Authenticity,” examine Johnson’s complex relationship with “cultural” parameters surrounding his composition: white mentor Brander Matthews’s theory of modern American fiction (Lawrence J. Oliver); the early twentieth-century African American literary scene (Michael Nowlin); and the novel’s “reliably unreliable” white readers (Jeff Karem 67). Each of these relationships consists of transactional negotiation rather than one-way influence. Through careful analysis of Johnson’s œuvre and correspondence, for example, Nowlin reveals that the author’s acute sense of African American literary destitution underlies the way he framed The Autobiography—both in its anonymous publication in 1912 and in the 1927 republication marketed as “a classic in Negro literature” (49)—which went in tandem with his strenuous promotion of other black writers to establish a legitimate and well-recognized African American literary tradition.

Part two, “Relational Tropes: Transnationalism, Futurity, and the Ex-Colored Man,” features three essays on the transnational and transhistorical potential of, and exploration in, The Autobiography. Diana Paulin compares the novel with Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood, and Daphne Lamothe does so with Teju Cole’s Open City, to reveal the “futurity” that Johnson’s work posits in the form, respectively, of…

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In This Ingenious Satire, a Father Goes to Extremes to Protect His Son From Racism

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-02-15 21:03Z by Steven

In This Ingenious Satire, a Father Goes to Extremes to Protect His Son From Racism

Book Review
The New York Times
2019-02-13

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


Maurice Carlos Ruffin Clare Welsh

Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow, A Novel (New York: One World, 2019)

Good questions breathe life into the world. “We Cast a Shadow,” Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, asks some of the most important questions fiction can ask, and it does so with energetic and acrobatic prose, hilarious wordplay and great heart.

“We Cast a Shadow” is the story of a black lawyer in a version of the American South. We are dropped into a future where the country is even more willing than now to follow its worst, most racist inclinations. The unnamed narrator describes how, in the next state over, black people must wear tracking devices.

The novel draws its power from this unnamed man’s love for his family, particularly for his biracial son, Nigel. The narrator loves his son so much it seems he can’t even see him. What he does see is the boy’s figure outlined and defined by all the lurking dangers to his person and his potential. Our narrator is especially worried because of the metastasizing birthmarks that cover his son’s body: differently sized tokens of color that remind the world that Nigel is black, a fate as unfortunate as any in the mind of his father…

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The Blue Stain: A Novel of a Racial Outcast by Hugo Bettauer (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive, Passing on 2019-01-28 19:31Z by Steven

The Blue Stain: A Novel of a Racial Outcast by Hugo Bettauer (review)

Journal of Austrian Studies
Volume 51, Number 2, Summer 2018
pages 99-101
DOI: 10.1353/oas.2018.0027

Adam J. Toth, Lecturer of German
University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Hugo Bettauer, The Blue Stain: A Novel of a Racial Outcast. Edited by Peter Höyng. Translated by Peter Höyng and Chauncey J. Mellor. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2017. 144 pp.

Hugo Bettauer, an author virtually unknown to the U.S., will see new appreciation with the recent translation of his novel The Blue Stain: A Novel of a Racial Outcast. Originally titled Das blaue Mal: Der Roman eines Ausgestoßenen and published in 1922, Peter Höyng and Chauncey J. Mellor’s new and first translation of this book will make it more accessible to audiences in the English speaking-world. The translation of this novel arrives at a critical and relevant time particularly in the U.S., as the novel tells the story a half-white/half-black protagonist of Austrian and African-American descent and his life in various parts of the United States and Vienna. The novel offers crisp perspective during the U.S.’s ever-present crisis of racism and social injustice. Rather than nitpicking and fussing over the details of the translation, however, I will focus on the translators’ note, the introduction, and the afterword, as these matter a great deal to those gaining access to Austrian literature without the benefit of the German language under their belt and therefore weigh heavily on the work’s overall success.

Höyng and Mellor’s notes on the translation process accurately explain how they rendered the novel into English but offer limited perspective behind some of their decisions. When explaining how to translate the interjection “Wehe,” Höyng and Mellor assert that “possible dictionary translations for ‘Wehe’ were ‘alack‘ and ‘woe is me,’ both of which sounded hopelessly stilted and obsolete, reminiscent of shallow melodrama, and out of character for Zeller. ‘Good grief‘ was also rejected, because it evokes Charlie Brown’s use of this stock phrase in Peanuts and the bemusement it conjures up. ‘Good Gracious‘ showed up, but seemed a bit too pretentious, British, and possibly effeminate” (Höyng and Mellor, ix). For whom “Good Gracious” may seem pretentious, how the expression may seem too British, and why it would sound too effeminate (or effeminate at all) remain unanswered. While I can appreciate any amount of constraints the translators may have had in writing their notes, their target audience seems to only be one that speaks English but not German. Dwelling on such Kleinigkeiten in their introduction diverts the reader’s attention away from the text as a whole and down a rabbit hole on semantics and approximation. That said, the careful attention Höyng and Mellor gave to the work’s title and the translation of pejorative language against African-Americans in the original and in the translation express the importance of the novel itself and could itself hardly be considered trivial.

Höyng’s introduction gives the most thorough contextualization of the novel possible, guiding its readers through Bettauer’s known biography and the historical milieus of the book and its author. Höyng notes that “The Blue Stain represents the first novel in German to address racism in the United States in the twentieth century” (xv), stressing an important part of the novel’s position within the Austrian literary canon. He also emphasizes the important parallels made between Austria and the U.S. regarding race that converge in the novel, namely the “1867 law emancipating the Jews,” when Jews “had been granted their civil rights” (xix, xiv). By stressing this historical event, Höyng draws attention to the parallels between institutional anti-Semitism in the Habsburg Empire and institutional racism against African-Americans in the U.S. While I think the historical similarities are a good place to start bringing these historical events into dialogue with one another, additional contextualization of de jure and de facto anti-Semitism in the Habsburg Empire before and after emancipation in 1867 would help the readers see the historical differences between the experiences of Jews in the Habsburg Empire and African-Americans in the U.S.

The more critical points made about Bettauer’s…

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The passing of David Matthews

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-01-23 22:39Z by Steven

The passing of David Matthews

Savannah Now (Savannah Morning News)
Savannah, Georgia
2007-01-13

John Stoehr


David Matthews

In Harlem Renaissance author Claude McKay’s 1931 short story “Near-White,” Angelina Dove, a pale African American hoping to move up in the world, asks her mother “if some people are light enough to live like whites, why should there be such a fuss? Why should they live colored when they can be happier living white?”

Apparently many did. According to “The White African American Body,” by Charles D. Martin, a professor of literature at Florida State University, Ebony magazine published an article in 1948 titled “5 million U.S. white Negroes.”

The story, Martin wrote, proudly reported an upsurge in the number of African Americans who crossed the color line undetected by Jim Crow America. The article’s centerpiece was a series of photographs. The reader was invited to guess which person was black and which was white. Of the 14 portraits, three were white.

One of these “millions” of “white Negroes” was Anatole Broyard, the New York Times literary critic who, for decades, protected the Ivory Tower of European high culture from the unwashed proletariat while also “passing” for white, to the extent that even his wife and children didn’t know of his African ancestry until after his death in 1990.

Broyard’s hidden identity was revealed by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in a piece titled “The Passing of Anatole Broyard” for the New Yorker in 1996. The practice of racial passing, and the serious questions the social phenomena raises about the metaphysics of race and the paradox of racial identity, received wider attention four years later thanks to Philip Roth’s novel “The Human Stain” and its eventual movie adaptation.

In the decades since Martin Luther King Jr.’sI Have a Dream” speech, which have witnessed the rise of black nationalism, hip-hop, political correctness and influential black figures like Tiger Woods and Barack Obama, one might think passing for another race an archaic endeavor – discouraged by proud enfranchised blacks, dismissed by guilt-ridden whites.

As David Matthews demonstrates in his new memoir, “Ace of Spades,” however, passing continues. Like Angelina Dove, Matthews passed for white for the first 20 years of his life – throughout the 1970s, ’80s and into the ’90s – as a means of living more happily in an America still in thrall to the oppressive requirement of identification according to race…

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American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race [Oliver Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2019-01-22 18:54Z by Steven

American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race [Oliver Review]

Race, Politics, Justice
2018-06-01

Pamela Oliver, Conway-Bascom Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Angel Adams Parham’s book American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race (Oxford, 2017, available in hardcover and as an ebook from many vendors) is an exciting work that makes a novel and important contribution to our understanding of race in the US. The “racial palimpsest” idea is that different racial systems layer over each other and can coexist as different groups struggle over their identity and position in society. Parham’s case is the refugees who fled the revolution in St. Domingue (present-day Haiti) and joined the Louisiana Creoles between 1791 and 1810. This migration almost doubled the population and left New Orleans blacker, more African, and with a larger proportion of free people of color. New Orleans and Louisiana had been governed first by the Spanish and then the French and had operated with a tri-partite racial system that permitted open relations between free people of color and whites and the accumulation of wealth by free people of color; allowed mixed-race offspring to inherit; treated whiteness as a matter of appearance and status, not purity; and both provided more possibilities for slaves to become free and permitted slaves more freedom to congregate than the Anglo-American system. When the United States acquired Louisiana in 1803, this French racial system was viewed as dangerous by the white Anglo-Americans and the two systems came into confrontation…

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Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy by Alisha Gaines (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2019-01-09 22:27Z by Steven

Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy by Alisha Gaines (review)

Journal of Southern History
The Southern Historical Association
Volume 84, Number 3, August 2018
pages 787-789
DOI: 10.1353/soh.2018.0230

Martha J. Cutter, Professor of English and Africana Studies
University of Connecticut

Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy. By Alisha Gaines. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017. Pp. xvi, 213. Paper, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-4696-3283-4; cloth, $80.00, 978-1-4696-3282-7.)

For many years, we have been told that passing is passé. Yet the recent media frenzy surrounding Rachel Dolezal proves that U.S. culture is still vehemently invested in defining the boundaries of whiteness and blackness. When I flashed a PowerPoint slide of Dolezal last spring in my African American literature class, students broke into a cacophony of groans, shouts, and exclamations of “she’s not black!” I was surprised that all but one of my students instantly recognized Dolezal’s image and that virtually everyone had an opinion about her. The plethora of recent books on racial passing—both on African Americans who pass as white and Anglo Americans who pass as black—further demonstrates this topic’s great fascination. Despite postmodern views that race is a construct, scholars often want to pin a racial passer into one category, usually as either a seeker of freedom from racial codes or a betrayer of his or her “true” race. Yet few have considered what passing tells us about our own investments in racial binaries.

I therefore turned with pleasure to Alisha Gaines’s thoughtful book, Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy, which joins a slim list of studies of “‘passing, in reverse'”: the phenomenon of white people who pass for and sometimes claim to become black (p. 17). Other books on this subject include Baz Dreisinger’s Near Black: White-to-Black Passing in American Culture (Amherst, Mass., 2008) and some chapters in Julie Cary Nerad’s edited collection, Passing Interest: Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010 (Albany, N.Y., 2014). Gaines mentions only one of these works, although I trust that she has consulted both of them.

Gaines’s book is well written and compelling. Her argument that white people’s attempts at “cross-racial empathy” and identification often fail because of their refusal to consider the larger structural and institutional causes of racism is certainly sound (p. 8). Moreover, her use of archival sources is exemplary. I have written about white-to-black passing, yet I still learned much factual information about the passers she studies, including Ray Sprigle, a journalist who published In the Land of Jim Crow (1949); John Howard Griffin, whose book Black Like Me (1961) eclipsed the accounts of all other would-be white passers; Grace Halsell, a white woman and a journalist who took on Griffin’s mantle and published Soul Sister (1969); and finally, the families who switched races in the six-episode television series Black. White. (2006). The book concludes with a short examination of Rachel Dolezal, whom Gaines refuses to consider as “transracial” because the theorization of this term “falls apart” (p. 170). She explains that “blackness becomes the space of racial play, performance, and affect, whereas whiteness does not” (p. 170). This ignores that some light-skinned African Americans did play with whiteness (Jean Toomer, for example) and that some white people crossed over into blackness never to come back (Clarence King and Mezz Mezzrow, for instance). Gaines focuses on creating a genealogy of “temporary black individuals operating under the alibi of racial empathy” in order to illustrate the frequent failure of cross-racial empathy and intimacy (p. 8). Still, I found myself wondering what conclusions Gaines might have reached had she looked at less famous individuals who passed permanently into blackness.

As I have argued elsewhere, passing is a slippery term with roots in deceit and disguise, magic and transformation. The examples Gaines has chosen to include support her argument that temporary assumptions of blackness cannot lead to structural or institutional change. The book might have benefited from a deeper excavation of previous scholarship on white-to-black passing and empathy, but even so, Gaines offers a valuable assessment of how white people problematically inhabit the…

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Review: Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-08 21:42Z by Steven

Review: Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
2018-06-02

Vanessa Holden, Assistant Professor of History and African American and Africana Studies
University of Kentucky

Sharon Block, Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

At the opening of Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America, Sharon Block poses two provocative questions: “What were the meanings of black, white, and red in the colonial eighteenth century; and how did Anglo-American colonists describe people’s appearance?” (1) To answer these queries Block presents a cultural history race in Britain’s 18th century American colonies. She makes a careful study of the descriptors advertisers and editors used in missing colonial persons adds for runaway African descent and their European and Native American servants.

Block argues that the terms “black”; “white”; “red”; and “yellow” did not have static meanings that neatly corresponded to racial identities for 18th-century Anglo-colonists. Those terms evolved into markers of racial difference right alongside American constructions of race that would not become commonplace until the 19th century. Block challenges readers to understand how humoral theory influenced European colonists’ ideas about physical appearance and how the form of the missing person ad reflected and shaped the meanings of signifiers like age, height, and health for colonial subjects.

Block engages thirty-nine colonial newspapers from all over the across colonial America for her study, drawing from them both quantitative and qualitative data to support her arguments. From their pages, she gleans categories and descriptors used by 18th-century subjects to describe other 18th century subjects. “Through a range of descriptive choices,” she writes, “advertisers communicated the features they deemed significant for readers to know and revealed shared assumptions about bodily norms.”(5) Block remains very critical of her sources throughout and highlights both the form and the content of the ads she analyzes. She is well aware that the ads are part of an archive of mastery and makes sure to note this throughout. Block remains clear that the norms she excavates from these advertisements are norms for Anglo-colonizers and takes care to acknowledge African and Native American understandings of physiology. That the descriptors and signifiers she analyzes allow Anglo-colonists to flatten individual human experiences and bolster colonial systems of power is precisely her point.

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Making Race in British Colonial North America

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-08 20:53Z by Steven

Making Race in British Colonial North America

Black Perspectives
2018-11-08

Elise A. Mitchell, Ph.D. Candidate in Atlantic World History and Caribbean and Latin American History
Department of History
New York University


Uncle Sam challenging the interference of John Bull, the personification of Great Britain, in the Civil War, 1861 (Photo: Library of Congress).

When confronted with three eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements seeking a missing man from Connecticut named Ishmael Mux of “a white Complexion,” a missing Pennsylvanian named John Daily who had a “black Complexion, bushy Hair,” and a man who went missing on his way to North Carolina named Andrew Vaughan with a “red” complexion, most readers would presume that their complexions, “white,” “black,” and “red,” indicated their race. However, as Sharon Block shows in her latest book, Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America, to eighteenth-century readers:

White, black, and red complexion did not automatically parallel European, African, and Native American heritages, respectively. In fact, Ishmael was described as mulatto; John as Irish; and Andrew was listed as an infantryman in the British 40th regiment, was born in Philadelphia, with no nationality or ethnicity specified. Skin and hair appearance were features related to, but not constitutive of, ethnic or national background (60-61).

This is but one of many examples Sharon Block uses to illustrate how the relationships between bodily descriptions, ethnicities, and racial meaning are not transhistorical, but developed through contextually specific discourses that have changed over time (83). Block, a digital humanist and historian of race, gender, rape, sexuality, and the body, examined thirty-nine British North American colonial newspapers published between 1750 and 1775 and analyzed over 4000 advertisements for missing enslaved and free people. Her ambitious study of these advertisements reveals how British North American colonists constructed race through quotidian discourses. Colonial Complexions is a crucial contribution to the history of race and a noteworthy model for digital age historical methodology…

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JewAsian: race, religion, and identity for America’s Newest Jews [Review]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2018-11-01 02:37Z by Steven

JewAsian: race, religion, and identity for America’s Newest Jews [Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 40, 2017 – Issue 13
pages 2380-2382
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2017.1329544

Hasia R. Diner, Paul And Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History
New York University

Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt, JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America’s Newest Jews (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016).

Sociologists Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt, a married couple, he of Jewish background, presumably European, and she of Korean derivation, have, with this slim book, launched an important topic for further research and scholarly inquiry. The two authors explore here, using the conventional methods of sociological study, a trend, presumably new and emblematic of postmodernity. This trend can be accessed by even the most casual readers nearly every Sunday in the wedding announcements in The New York Times‘ Style section. Like JewAsian—obviously a neologism—The Times postings chronicle the not uncommon phenomenon of, for the most part, Jewish men, bearers of identifiable Jewish surnames, marrying women marked by their names and by the accompanying photographs identifiable as Asian, primarily individuals who themselves or their forbears hailed from China, Korea, and Vietnam.

The text of the wedding announcements, besides detailing the usually impressive occupations and educational backgrounds of bride and groom, and those of their parents, fit well with this fascinating book. Nearly all the nuptial notices indicate that a rabbi or cantor will be officiating at the ceremony, indicating that Jews, certainly the non-Orthodox among them who constitute the American majority, have embraced this emerging reality of marriages across lines of race, ethnicity, and religion. So too the fact that the brides in these marriages have chosen to have their unions solemnized by a member of the Jewish clergy, rather than by someone representing Christianity or Buddhism or any other religious tradition associated with Asian and Asian American culture, represents an important contemporary reality which Kim and Leavitt explore in their book.

The wedding announcements, like the much publicized union between FaceBook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, sweethearts since their Harvard days and like the data presented in JewAsian, point to the trend by which the non-Jewish, Asian women who marry Jewish men become integrated and absorbed into the fabric of American Jewish life. Kim and Leavitt, who for the most part leave out the details of their personal journey as an Asian and Jewish couple, focusing carefully on the pairs whom they interviewed, do appropriately indicate in the Preface that they met and fell in love while graduate students at the University of Chicago…

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Why ‘The Hate U Give’ Is Not a Black Lives Matter Movie

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Social Justice, United States on 2018-11-01 02:14Z by Steven

Why ‘The Hate U Give’ Is Not a Black Lives Matter Movie

Los Angeles Sentinel
2018-10-18

Melina Abdullah, Professor of Pan-African Studies
California State University, Los Angeles

Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Cofounder of Black Lives Matter and founder of Dignity and Power Now
Los Angeles, California

Some are touting ‘The Hate U Give,’ as “the first Black Lives Matter movie.” Red flags should have gone up the moment we learned that Fox, recently acquired by Disney, was behind the film with a massive public relations budget, footing the bill for hundreds of advance screenings with celebrity guests, marketing swag, and heavy media saturation – especially in Black markets. We might also wonder about the choice to have Audrey Wells, a White screenwriter whose credits include “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” adapt an urban Black novel for the screen. Angie ThomasNew York Times bestseller on which the film is based swapped out the book cover that originally pictured a chocolate-colored Afroed girl, for the light-skinned young actress, Amandla Stenberg, who plays the lead, Starr Carter, in the film. Stenberg’s braids hang long as she holds a placard that reads “The Hate U Give,” a reference to Tupac’s THUG LIFE acronym (The Hate U Give Little Infants F*cks Everyone). Tupac, Hip Hop icon, poet, and son of a Black Panther, was intentional with his language. THUG LIFE, tattooed across his mid-section, was a scathing critique of the White-supremacist-capitalist system that treats Black and poor children with contempt, depriving them of resources, and ultimately causing the whole of society to suffer the consequences. The film betrays that analysis by entrenching old tropes. “The Hate U Give” makes Black people primarily responsible for their own oppression. The film asks viewers not to challenge a policing system that kills Black people at least every 28 hours, but to focus exclusively on “Black-on-Black crime,” even when unarmed Black boys are killed by White cops…

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