Whitewashing is the practice of deliberately casting white actors in non-white rolls to appeal to a ‘wider audience’. That sounds like a load of baloney to a nigga.
Growing up, I never could understand why even Jesus was portrayed by blond and blue-eyed actors, Moses was played by Charlton Heston, Pharaoh was played by Yul Brynner, and Cleopatra was played by Elizabeth Taylor. I would love to say things are different now but are they really? See for yourself.
I was an avid reader as a child in the ’70s. Comic books were my thing. Of the hundreds of comic book characters, there may have been two in the pantheon of white characters who were black. One was Luke Cage and the other was Storm from the Mutants. When I had my first child, I imagined a different world. I scoured the stores for black dolls and what I found were the barbie-like dolls lining the store shelves. On the occasion there was a Black doll, its features were demonstratively Caucasian. It literally appeared as if the makers painted a brunette doll brown.
I am grateful that in the 2000s, my youngest and my granddaughter were fortunate enough to have a wider selection of ethnic dolls to choose from including the Bratz and Barbie. Barbie even has a line of diverse barbie dolls. But, from where I stand, almost all of the dolls major manufactures featured were what we Blacks refer to as “darkleypacked” as if Blacks are all one skin tone. FYI, we are not. I have to admit, times have changed somewhat. Ethnic comic book characters like “Black Panther” have demonstrated their enormous crossover appeal. Black dolls can now be found on Amazon. And, more importantly, unlike generations past, little boys and girls of color can finally see themselves represented. I gotta tell you, as a person of color it is extremely important to childhood development to see yourself positively represented in something as simple as a doll or an action figure.
The 1940’s psychologists Kenneth and Marie Clark’s “Doll Test” proved overwhelmingly the impact of segregation on children. According to The Legal Defense Fund, the overwhelming number of Black and White children ascribed favorable characteristics to the white dolls, and dispositive characteristics to the Black doll. In a particularly memorable episode, while Dr. Clark was conducting experiments in rural Arkansas, he asked a black child which doll was most like him. The child responded by smiling and pointing to the brown doll: “That’s a nigger. I’m a nigger.” I don’t know about you, but as a parent, that made me mad as fuck?
It angers me to the depth of my soul to know modern research has elicited similar results. For fuck’s sake I have daughters, nieces, nephews, and a granddaughter. Black, White, Blue or Brown we want to leave a better world than what we found. And I can’t help but hurt that if I am lucky, I will leave a world slightly less fucked than the one I found. The world had centuries to get its shit together, and what we got was “Black Panther ”, “Encato”, and a separate section at the back of a store for a ‘niche’ clientele.
Quickly, name five 90’s movies with a Black teacher as a central figure? I’ll wait. You’re better than me if you can because I haven’t. My generation skirted the line between baby boomers and Gen X. I grew up as a Gen X, and my earliest school memories included one Black teacher and that was at the high school level. Why do you think that was? And don’t give me any bullshit about population percentages and demographics. New York City had and has the largest population of Blacks of any major city.
My curriculum was Euro centric. We revered historical figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Columbus, Alexander, Washington, Napoleon, and Jefferson. They purposely left out the Moors, Dumas, Shaka Zulu, Frederick Douglass, or Le Overture. The only Blacks of any historical significance I learned about in school were Crispus Attucks, and George Washington Carver. Attucks was the first person to die in the revolutionary war. And Carter invented multiple uses for the peanut. I guess when you are whitewashing history, the likes of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Madam CJ Walker, Hiram Revels, and Tariq Ibn-Ziyad did not fit the narrative.
The idea of an inclusive curriculum has grown in popularity over the years, but lately we have witnessed that popularity wane, as more and more school boards, and educators are under fire for teaching “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) to our youth. It doesn’t matter CRT is only taught in law schools. It doesn’t matter that people like Christopher are using CRT to manufacture rage. All that matters is we continue to teach this white-bread, whitewashed, revisionist history, the “Daughters of the Revolution” began inserting into mainstream American education following the Civil war.
Based on the actions of states like Florida, Virginia, Idaho, and Texas, it may be quite some time before diversity becomes a focal point of the American curriculum. After all, some politicians like “Mitch” don’t necessarily view African Americans as real Americans. So, I’m guessing there is no need to add them to the curricula, is there?
The African people who were brought to this land we now call home brought an amazing and diverse set of cultures with them. The richness of our culture is felt in nearly every facet of American life and nearly every corner of this nation from Alabama to Arkansas. From the dawn of slavery to present day we have written our way into the annals of American history. Yet, the works of Morrison, Hurston, Dubois, Wright, Hues, Andrew, and Haley are conspicuously unknown, and uncelebrated as if the only works of consequence are that of Caucasian authors.
As a young man, I had a hard time finding a book written by a black author that wasn’t seen as controversial or radical in some form or other. Books like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Morrison’s The Bluest Eye existed, but were strongly discouraged. Meanwhile, White writers like Twain, Mitchell, and Griffith could spin our experiences and were lauded for mischaracterizing the negro ad nauseum.
I’m an author of African ancestry and my life is in America. My wife and children are Americans. I have immense love for America. As much as I love this country, I cannot, in good conscience, pledge allegiance to a country that does not value me as a human being. I will continue to write and advocate for social justice and human rights because, as flawed as our forefathers were, and they were, “the inalienable rights of man” should and must be more than a construct for some and reality for others.
Read my perspective on growing up and living as a black man in America in the Diary of an Angry Black Man. Coming soon! Look forward to a release date and place your pre–order by filling out the contact form. Stay tuned for the release date by following me on various social platforms like like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.