Five Surprisingly Racist Movies About Civil Rights

The Help isn't the first movie to turn civil rights into a story about nice white people.


By Phil Nugent

The Help is a new movie about the relationship between sassy young Mississippi white girl Emma Stone and her colored maids, and how such relationships affected the struggle for racial equality; it promises to be one more movie about how important the civil rights movement was for all those courageous white people. Hollywood has been using the fight against race discrimination as story fodder for decades now, and sometimes, they've managed to get it more wrong than seems humanly possible.
 


1. Hurry, Sundown (1967)

Director Otto Preminger's contribution to the civil rights cause was this stern indictment of a racist South, which was itself indicted by critics and audiences for its retrograde depiction of eye-popping, childishly innocent blacks who just want to be left alone to enjoy their fried chicken and watermelon. This movie is so out of touch for its time that it's a wonder Preminger didn't hire white actors to play the characters in blackface. It couldn't have been any more embarrassing than Michael Caine's attempt at a Southern accent.
 


2. Cry Freedom (1987)

In the 1980s, the focus of the civil rights movement shifted to ending apartheid in South Africa. Looking to get in on the act, director Richard Attenborough (Gandhi) announced that he was making a movie about the life of the murdered South African activist Stephen Biko (played by Denzel Washington). He then made a movie about the heroism of the world's most boring white guy (Kevin Kline), who, after Biko's death, dared to write a book about him. The movie wildly exaggerates the drama of how Biko's biographer got himself and his manuscript out of the country, and still leaves you wondering how anyone could think there was a movie in it. This would make a great double feature with Clint Eastwood's more recent Invictus, which suggests that Nelson Mandela's number-one priority after being released from prison was to show white South Africans how crazy he was about their favorite rugby team.

 

3. Mississippi Burning (1988)

This big, hysterical, violent melodrama about the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964 makes the black characters look like defenseless, albeit saintly, chumps. The heroes who wade in, swinging with both fists and kicking the bejesus out of the racists, are the strong white men of the FBI — the same guys who, in the actual history of the period, were tapping Martin Luther King's phone and sending him notes urging him to commit suicide. Director Alan Parker explained to interviewers that he falsified everything about the true story he was purporting to tell because he thought it was an important story that audiences needed to hear about, and if the movie bore any resemblance to that story, nobody would come to the theater.

 

4. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

This movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1989, the same year that Spike Lee thought he deserved the Nobel Prize in Movies for Do the Right Thing. Because of this, Spike Lee will still be complaining about much he despises this film on his deathbed. Still, the film had some critics with less of a personal stake in it than Lee. Many of them felt that 1989 was a little late for a movie that "personalizes" changing race relations in the South through the story of a cranky old white lady who, after nearly an hour and a half, finally manages to be decent to her black driver.

 


5. Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)

In 1994, justice was finally served for civil rights activist Medgar Evers, when Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of his 1963 murder. Justice has yet to be served for Evers's widow, who had to live to see herself played by Whoopi Goldberg in a crappy movie. This film assumes that whites will only feel comfortable watching a black woman in Myrlie Evers' position if she seems too blissed out on her own all-accepting saintliness to be really angry about what's been done to her family. (The real Myrlie Evers has a mean mouth on her. Remember when you could say that about Whoopi Goldberg?) Small wonder that the heroic white lawyer (Alec Baldwin) who has to share scenes with her seems to be having trouble keeping his eyelids propped up.

 

Commentarium (74 Comments)

Aug 08 11 - 12:12am
Vinegar Bend

There wasn't a person alive, then or now, who claimed that "Hurry Sundown" was a good movie.

Aug 08 11 - 2:56pm
Rodney Welch

Richard Brody talks about in a recent DVD of the Week episode in The New Yorker. He made me want to see it.

Aug 08 11 - 12:57am
:)

Ok, the civil rights movement needed those "nice white people" just like the gay equality movement needs those "nice straight people". You need folks on the inside to bust down the walls to let the "outsiders" in. Stop being so dramatic Nerve.

Aug 08 11 - 8:53am
devo

You should read more carefully! The premise of the article isn't that white people weren't PART of the CR movement -- it's that Hollywood has a tendency to make it look like they deserve all the credit for it. The Help is one of those movies. (As a black man who has seen it).

Aug 08 11 - 1:05pm
Luvscout

Devo- I just bought the book today? Did you read the book? Was it any better than the movie? I read the reviews on amazon and folks there loved, loved it.

Mar 16 12 - 5:52am
Luisa

I think the book was more about black struggle. It is pretty sensitive about the whole 'white women saving black women' thing by directly addressing it. .

Aug 08 11 - 1:23am
WBM

I completely disagree with this article. The Help is not another novel about nice white people. The fact that you've even said that just shows how ignorant you are of the entire book. The plot is this: a girl with a keen interest in writing decides to do something radical and assists in channeling the voices of the African American maids in her community. Voices, might I add, that have been silent against the offenses of their white employers until the opportunity to express their discontent came to them in the form of the "nice white girl's" book. So for Mr. Phil Nugent to claim that The Help is racist because it features a non racist Southerner assisting black women in their fight to be heard is pathetic and disgusting and AS an African American, I am appalled at this man's statement. As if there was nothing better going on in the world than the premier of The Help.

Aug 08 11 - 10:18am
Malachi Constant

First of all, can we please stop holding up Nerve like it's the last bastion of internet journalism? Whether or not there are more important things going on in the world is not relevant to the content of one culture site.
Secondly, the point of the article is to show that, for whatever reason, most movies focusing on black characters end up being channeled through the lens of some saintly white person, which is true -- I doubt the author's intent was to disparage the original text, just to point out that, historically, Hollywood has a tendency of framing the civil rights struggle through a decidedly Caucasian viewpoint.

Aug 08 11 - 11:25am
Word

Yes! I fucking hate it when people complain that whatever website isn't CNN. If this site wrote an article about starvation in the Sudan, everyone would be like, "woah, stick to movies."

There's nothing wrong with either... but this is a site that writes about movies! So, um, expect that.

Aug 09 11 - 8:33am
Booker T. Film

WBM, etc. might be missing an important element of the critique: sure, white folks were involved in the Civil Rights Movement and can be used as literary devices for telling those stories in film, but some movies reduce these stories to the centrality of white folks' experience of racism. WBM's point is entirely about the *book*, and Nugent's article addresses only the film. Might WBM's tune change if she/he sees the movie and discovers it is not so true to the book?

Aug 10 11 - 9:55pm
WBM

No.

Jul 16 12 - 3:07am
Fred

Ok, haven't read the book, but have seen the movie. I believe another problem with "civil rights movies" is that people confuse historical movies with fictional movies trying to make a point. I know the maid- boss relationship is frowned upon as paternalism, but people write what they know. This relationship should be explored and of course if the person on the "boss" side writes the story, then that is how the story is going to turn out. Another aspect of the movie that is touched upon is the "closed society." One of the first books to be written about the civi rights movement in Mississippi was Mississippi: the Closed Society by James Silver. Silver was the head of the History Department at Ole Miss. In his book, he speaks out against the thoughtless reaction to the arrival of James Meredith at the university. He argues that in its committment to oppressing black Mississippians, the state also closed itself to the free exchange of ideas. Whites who did not toe-the-line were also subject to persecution. This is not to say that this white persecution should be equated to black opression, but this theme is touched on the the movie The Help and should be explored futher in other movies related to Mississippi in this time period.

Aug 08 11 - 2:03am
@WBM

right on.

Aug 08 11 - 2:35am
Well...

I'm going to argue, first that Mississippi Burning and Ghosts of Mississippi Burning are not terrible films, and two that they do the important work of illustrating a South that a lot of people have forgotten existed. For example one where a white person could easily get away with murder, so long as their victim was black.

Aug 08 11 - 8:55am
Same

Mississippi Burning is a FAMOUSLY racist film. No one is saying it's not good in other ways, or totally without merit, but it's got a warped view of history and race relations.

Jul 16 12 - 2:52am
Fred

I would say worse than being racist, Mississipp Burning is historically inacurate. FBI workers who came to Mississippi (primarily because there was an influx of wealthy, white, northern college students arriving) were usually from there and quite friendly with local law enforcement. And their main job was to take notes. I have never finished watching the movie because it angers me. Blacks in the film are portrayed as frightened and waiting for salvation when in fact the movement in Mississippi was a grassroots effort. The good thing about Mississippi Burning is that it inspired what is possibly the two best movies about the civil rights movement (at least in Mississippi): Murder in Mississippi and Freedom Song. Murder in Mississippi is about the relationship and work of James Chaney and Michael Schwerner prior to their murders. Freedom Song is a fictional story, but base on the work of Bob Moses and the first SNCC workers in McComb, MS, in 1961. Both of these were written by actual civil rights workers. They are unfortunately made-for- TV movies and not well known.

Aug 08 11 - 3:59am
Camoo

You say of this new release "it promises to be one more movie about how important the civil rights movement was for all those courageous white people." It "promises to be?" Have you actually seen it? Are you being presumptuous just to fit this into some bogus thesis?

Aug 08 11 - 8:57am
whatever

Have none of you heard of "The Birth of a Nation?" Just because a movie has some historical importance or won a couple awards doesn't mean it isn't racist as all hell.

I love this list - glad to see a stupid movie called out.

Aug 08 11 - 9:17am
nope

I think they were focusing on movies with their hearts in the right places -- i.e., trying to be good about civil rights and race relations. The Birth of a Nation was just straight-up racist.

My vote for 'most glaring omission' would be Glory.

Aug 08 11 - 1:28pm
Well...

Would have to most definitely agree - Glory certainly belongs on this list.

Aug 08 11 - 2:55pm
DraperFan

Definitely. All I could keep thinking during Glory was "why the hell is Matthew Broderick getting so much screen time? I thought this film was about black people?"

Aug 11 11 - 8:57pm
FanofHistory

And I'd disagree - sure Glory re-wrote chunks of the actual history. But it was white officers like Colonel Shaw (played by Broderick) who fought against established prejudices so that those soldiers would be treated as soldiers and not as enlisted workmen and servants. Racism was an ingrained part of the culture of those times, and this movie showed both that as well as the efforts of the Black Soldiers as well as their non-coms and officers to change things. Their equality as soldiers was proved when they died side-by-side.

Aug 08 11 - 9:21am
Guesto

Is Phil Nugent a relation of Ted Nugent? If not, why does he think using "colored" in the opening paragraph is OK?

Aug 08 11 - 9:34am
Moops

It's fairly obvious he is using the term "colored" in the context of the movie.

Aug 08 11 - 9:41am
Johnny Utah

Because he's writing that sentence in the voice of a do-gooding, wrong-headed Hollywood person, that's why.

Aug 08 11 - 9:36am
Moops

One glaring omission from this list: The Smurfs.

Aug 25 11 - 4:11pm
Currently High

* Giggle *

Aug 08 11 - 10:50am
Julian

An often overlooked 'civil rights' film (well, kinda), is 'The Liberation of L.B. Jones', which stars both Lee J. Cobb and Roscoe Lee Browne, Anthony Zerbe as the most disgusting white police officer ever, Lola Falana's bare ass, and Yaphet Kotto hurling some poor cracker into a wheat thresher and getting away with it.
And let's not forget about 'The Klansmen', which stars both Lee Marvin and Richard Burton, Cameron Mitchell as the most disgusting white police officer ever, Lola Falana's bare breasts, and O.J. Simpson killing poor crackers and getting away with it.
They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

Aug 08 11 - 11:06am
Joe

I read the book. The narrative starts with one of the maids and we don't really hear the voice of the white narrator until a decent way into the novel. The woman who wrote it is also a white woman from Jackson, Mississippi and, in an afterward, describes the incidences in her life that inspired the book. The book felt to me like a very personal narrative and it was well-written, honest, and engaging. Given that this is an article about movies and I haven't seen The Help yet, I'm going to give it a pass. But context is important when considering this stuff. Race is a permanent hot button and you have to be careful in weighing in on this stuff. Context.

Aug 08 11 - 12:02pm
TS

Really? No "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" on this list?

Aug 08 11 - 2:19pm
Moops

What about "Crash"?

Aug 09 11 - 12:58am
Rj

I don't think crash was racist at all.

Aug 25 11 - 4:13pm
Post-Humanist

Crash wasn't racist. It was just boring and slow. Everybody has a back-story, and not all of it is interesting.

Aug 08 11 - 3:19pm
Aly

As far as the Help goes, I have to say I really disagree with the idea of Skeeter as a heroine. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the book was very bleak, and the results of what the women did were somewhat ambiguous. Skeeter's own feelings about what she was doing were kind of shaky, and she wasn't sure it was the right thing, but she was very ambitious.

I agree, though, that it is kind of troubling that media representations of the civil rights struggle so often feature a white character as a kind of filter.

Aug 08 11 - 3:45pm
rm

Besides which, any movie that Emma Stone is in that portends to be Smart & Progressive is just going to be pop-culture trash tricking you into thinking you are Smart & Progressive for watching it. Easy A? Well I'll be darned - slut shaming really DOES work!

Aug 09 11 - 1:56pm
LH

Finally! Someone agrees with me about Easy A.

Aug 08 11 - 5:31pm
CB

Crash should totally be on this list.

Aug 25 11 - 4:14pm
Ham Radio

You should totally switch to satellite.

Aug 08 11 - 5:54pm
D

Nerve is getting pretty liberal with its use of the word "racist." David Sedaris is racist because, to his American nostrils, Chinese restaurants smell dirty (even though he allows that it's probably just an ingredient he's not familiar with). Those talking hand vaginas? Racist because they say things inline with racial stereotypes (by that argument, Shirley from Community, donkey from Shrek and virtually every character in a Tyler Perry film is a racist depiction). To me, for something to be racist, it has to have the underlying premise that the group is inferior. From the descriptions here, Hurry, Sundown passes that test. But portraying Evers' widow in a way more sympathetic to audiences is racist only if the underlying message is, "black people are too stupid and "blissed out" to get angry about the injustices served them."

Focusing a movie on the white people involved in civil rights is not racist. Telling a story about a guy who wrote a book about a civil rights leader is not racist (though it may be boring). Even implying that African Americans weren't capable of achieving whatever success without sympathetic whites isn't even racist, unless your implication is that that inability is the result of inferiority rather than historical circumstances. Would it be anti-Semitic for a movie to imply that Jews in Europe would not have been capable of defeating Hitler absent the help of the Allied Forces?

Aug 09 11 - 5:19am
Pixie

Thank Christ! Someone with half a brain!

Aug 09 11 - 8:39am
CriticalRaceTheorist

Racism is a context. It is more complex than simply hating another group of people. Derrick Bell argues that it is impossible to be an American without being racist because one could not understand the culture from within, and its currency, without being plugged into its structural violence. You might be right that some are jumping the gun in calling out racism--but it is also possible that racism infects us virally in a way that outstrips oversimplifying understandings of individual "legal" responsibility.

Aug 09 11 - 9:41am
mp

Yes--not all racism is virulent. Almost everyone has some racism, whether we like it or not, because the culture has such an intensely racist history and the effects of that are still percolating. Sometimes racism just comes in the form of well-intentioned cluelessness, in which case it deserves not scathing condemnation but the gentle mockery of a list like this.

Aug 09 11 - 10:48am
D

I agree with the point re. American's latent (or not-so-latent) racism. If anything, I think the Nerve writers tend to oversimplify, without really getting at what might *actually* be racist about a given movie, ad, book, etc. If you were writing an essay titled "Depictions of African Americans in Civil Rights Movies," and making the argument that many depictions were racist, you would probably zoom in on how the movies portray black people and what that's saying. (I know these aren't scholarly essays, but they do supposedly have an underlying thesis.) The blurb about Driving Miss Daisy doesn't even mention Morgan Freeman or his character. It's a "surprisingly racist movie" because its premise is outdated? Because it focuses on a cranky old white lady who is finally able to see past her racism? People need to be able to describe what is racist about something. Chinua Achebe's famous critique of Heart of Darkness isn't that the book follows Captain Kurtz. Nerve writers consistently fail at this, yet they continue to use it as a subject of news and feature articles.

Aug 08 11 - 7:18pm
Oblique Strategy

Emphasise differences

Aug 08 11 - 7:56pm
FelixJones

My mom says that there are a lot of black people in Africa.

Aug 09 11 - 7:48am
Moops

They aren't "black", they are African-American-Africans.

Aug 25 11 - 4:16pm
Vendetta on Moops

What? The black people in Africa sailed to the US, kidnapped black people from there and took them back to Africa for use as slaves? Shut it, Moops

Aug 08 11 - 11:01pm
ndrea

I have felt this way for a long time--that we in mainstream (white) culture are glad to hear stories about how the white people fought against institutional racism. I have long had a problem with _To Kill a Mockingbird_ for this very reason. Oh! It was so hard being white and standing up against racism! I like stories like _The Color Purple_ much better, because it doesn't concern itself with the white person's point of view, because it was irrelevant.

We studied 19th century American drama in college, and the plays written by white people and the plays written by black people were very, very different. The plays written by white people always had a good master, a kind mistress. The ones written by black people uniformly had white characters that were full of crap, but who thought they were being kind. I preferred the latter plays.

Sep 03 11 - 7:29am
Eli

So you're racist? That's what I read in your comments.

Aug 09 11 - 1:02am
Rj

"the white person's point of view" will never be irrelevant. Mainstream movies are generally created either for a white audience or with a predominantly white audience in mind. If you want a story to get out, you need to make it relatable to your audience in some way and I can hardly see why that's racist. @D - I completely agree with everything you wrote, especially the last sentence.

Aug 09 11 - 1:23am
ndrea

I guess my problem with these kinds of stories is that they seem to be the only ones that get promoted--how about a challenging story in which the person with whom you identify (white audience needs a white protagonist) is NOT the hero? and is, in fact, the villain? That would REALLY challenge people's ideas. No, you aren't a good person. Deal with it.

That's why these stories annoy me--it's because they exist to the exclusion of almost everything else.

Aug 11 11 - 6:49am
toggin

Do you really think that shaming an audience and saying that they are the reason why things suck today is a really good way to sell a film? Understand that these films exist for one reason, to make money. Which means that they need to appeal to the largest audience possible. The downside of course is that you get a great story that is sent through the hollywood meat grinder and the end result is nothing like the original concept. It's sad but it's the truth.

Jan 12 12 - 1:42pm
cristalexi

But by doing this these stories are fooling white people about the realities of racism and their part in it. Most white people I know are absolutely clueless as to what is going on. They are oblivious of the hordes of black people doing low paying maintenance jobs. When I see black people doing the low paying jobs I see this as an obvious sign of institutionalised racism. What do white people see it as? Do they even see it? Where I work all the low paying jobs are performed by mostly black people, a few poor whites or foreigners. The higher paid employees are mostly white (there is one black man). These higher paid workers expect people to be serving them and have no appreciation for the work others do. For example, today we were discussing an event we be having soon and someone mentioned making sure the cleaners do a deep clean of the office before the event and one of them said "Does it make any difference". I was absolutely horrified at this comment. Those cleaners work their butts off, they do a really good job, the office is spotless but these higher paid employees often make such remarks and are oblivious about how hardworking these people are. It really makes me quite angry. They do the same when workmen come to fix things asking them to be quiet when they are supposed to be fixing something which is going to make a noise. (In fact, one workman didn't do the job and just put on the job sheet "Couldn't do work as it was too noisy", and I thought good for him). I notice that alot ot white people really see themselves as above everyone and I've noticed this kind of behaviour is getting worse each year.

Aug 09 11 - 9:27am
Classic Material

Brilliant article. This whole thing reminds me of The Blind Side. Not that it's a movie about civil rights but how it's your typical "black person can't come up without the assistance of a white person" story. In watching that film I felt like they wanted me to say "oh that must have been so hard for that white woman to deal with all the mean things people must have been saying about her" like her life was so hard. It is typical that Hollywood tends to focus on the white side of civil rights, and just like The Blind Side it always comes down to "oh thank goodness for those white folks who stepped up and made things happen"

Aug 09 11 - 2:27pm
rebel

The success of the civil rights movement are being documented at the following.
violentflashmobs dot com .

Aug 09 11 - 4:10pm
Holly

I know the problem is that these tend to be the only stories that get filmed because "black movies" are apparently not marketable. But it's worth mentioning that it takes a fair amount of courage to speak out against opression even if it's not directly targeted at you. Disagreeing with the popularly held (and morally wrong) opinion has gotten white people ostracized, beaten and killed too.

Aug 10 11 - 1:08pm
Classic Material

But it's always been their choice whether or not to speak out. They have never had to worry about being ostracized, beaten or killed simply because they were white.

Aug 11 11 - 6:50am
toggin

Right. Thats never happened in this world.

Aug 10 11 - 7:55pm
Maitiu

You could have saved a lot of time by just summarizing the reviews: ZOMG! White people are in movies! That's so racist!

Aug 11 11 - 6:50am
toggin

Ditto

Aug 11 11 - 5:06pm
Schneidaman

I understand that Hollywood and other tv/movie producers are at fault for focusing their attention on the white side of the story, but saying that movies that focus on the white side of the story are racist is incorrect. Movies that look at the white side of the story are not racist because they look at the white side of things. The racist element is in the absence of other movies.

However, the depiction of cartoonish, helpless African-Americans is another story.

Aug 11 11 - 5:16pm
ebony

Thank you so much for compiling this list. Trust me, you aren't the only person who's thinking this.

Aug 12 11 - 12:26am
MRC

I find it interesting that so many people who discuss the racism problem talk as if America is the only country that has race problems, and that "it's all because of our history of slavery". Every country has racism problems and histories of one group of groups being oppressed/enslaved/marginalized by another. All cultures and countries have race problems. It ties into that whole psychological thing that says people of like-kind naturally form their own groups and tend to do things that separate themselves from the other groups who are different from their own, which includes marginalizing/mistreating/etc others. I'm NOT saying that that makes it right, not at all, but it makes me crazy when people talk with an air of "oh our country is SO terrible because its the last place that racism still exists! America is a shameful place for me to live in!" I agree that we as people of America should be better than all this racism shit, because we are smart enough to know that we need to rise above that psychological instinct to stick with our own kind and shun others. And I think most of us "get it" (certainly all of us Nerve readers get it) but of course there are still people out there who do NOT get it, and do NOT strive to accept people outside their own race/culture/sexual orientation/etc. Its sad, its true, and something that we, the championers of equality, have a responsibility to make better, in any way we can, large or small.

But this article is about these films, and how terrible it is that white (male) directors make movies with a tone of racism. I see the point, but at the same time, shouldn't we expect as much from a white (male) director who makes these things? Especially since, and I am assuming here, most of the people who put these movies out grew up in a time where segregation was the norm. Of course its from a white person perspective because gee, its made by a white person, and when it comes down to it, no white person will truly understand the African American perspective of the American race issue simply on the basis that they are white and cannot ever know what its like to be African American.

What I would have liked to see added to this list is 5 movies that get it right. Or are there any? And I agree with all of you who say that movies are predominately made so that they will attract the largest audience possible in order to make as much money as possible. Racism in movies is still a problem that needs to be corrected, but this problem is part of an even larger one, which is that the entertainment industry (on the whole) cares more about the all-mighty dollar than it does about making films that would actually be considered as art/profound/historically accurate/etc. It happens in the films listed here, as well as in films that portray men as mere sex fiends, women as annoying/stupid/slutty/worthless/the list goes on. It would be one thing if stereotypes like this were exploited in merely half of all major motion pictures, but the problem is that stereotypes and prejudices dominate the screen, and because of this, the majority of our culture comes to believe that these things are true- that the Civil Rights movement really DID happen because of nice white people, that all men really do care about is SEX and nothing else, that Women really ARE just idiots/cumdumpsters/insane. the whole industry needs a makeover in terms of how they portray us "regular" people. There is a line that has been crossed where entertainment has become the teacher of what is acceptable and normal in our society.

I'll get off my soapbox now. :-D

Aug 12 11 - 5:43pm
Z

THANK YOU! Our country has a SICK history of racism and any sort of prejudice against the different, and we are not by any means alone. If you look at Rwanda, where a genocide occurred the next generation will not tell you if they are Hutu or Tutsi, they will just say “I am Rwandan.” It’s been less than 20 years, there is definitely still prejudice and racism (as there will sadly always be) but they are headed in such a better direction than we are.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve read the book (which I loved). My father was helped raised by a black woman and when he read this he made both of his sisters read it, because he knew it was true. My girlfriend is bi-racial and I am very obviously white, but our relationship is not based on skin color or gender (we are both female), we care about the intellect of the other and I care about what is in her heart. I grew up in the South and that’s where I met my girlfriend of the last 5 years.

I think Crash was a movie that did get it right, or as right as we know how in this day and age regarding race. The Color Purple, although the book is so much, and it doesn’t have so much to do with black and white relations as black and black relations, it is a force to be reckoned with. Also as it is written by Alice Walker... Malcolm X was also great, once again nothing on the book, because it shows how one man can be angry at a race but then realize how stupid and pointless his hatred is. He throws away his hatred of white people because he realizes that he is wasting so much effort with it. That’s what we need to do. Wow, speaking of soapboxes.

Aug 12 11 - 11:11am
TFT

When are we going to see a Hollywood movie about Lenin/Stalin and racist genocide? Stalin is known to have killed at least 9 people himself and used Trotsky's Jewish faith to help boot him out and finally murder him. The Soviet Army wiped out just about everyone as they moved towards Germany is WW2. Ever heard of Siberia?

Aug 25 11 - 4:22pm
zstfu

Stalin was a psychopath. He was as much a racist as sharks have sharp teeth. You might as well use him to illustrate why "atheists" are such a danger to humanity.

Aug 19 11 - 3:14pm
Jack Wright

Phil, how many minutes did you spend researching Donald Woods (the boring white guy) on Wikipedia? When Donald Woods died, in London a decade ago, the last call he got was from Nelson Mandela, who said to him, "You are the greatest man I have ever known." He wasn't a biographer trying to sneak out a book on Biko, he was the first South African journalist to challenge apartheid. He risked his life to tell the story about how Biko was murdered by the South African authorities. After he left South Africa, he then wrote books about his experiences. The man had balls of steel, and a heart of gold. Jesus christ, do some basic research.

Aug 29 11 - 11:21pm
Jesslyn

Well done artcile that. I'll make sure to use it wisely.

Aug 31 11 - 11:32pm
Alex M

I'm beginning to feel like grasping at straws to deem things "racist/sexist/homophobic" is the new way to be a middle of the road shoot from the hip liberal. Like, "this isn't your parents' wet noodle liberalism, it's waay more focused on finding ways to accuse people of being bigoted!"

Also, the criticism of "Driving Miss Daisy" is so poorly made that it's downright surreal. So, Spike Lee not liking it plus it not being timely enough for some people makes it racist?

Sep 02 11 - 9:04pm
Eli

Is this post a joke?
I went to see the help with my mother, who grew up in Montgomery, AL and Columbus, GA. Her family was poor, so they never had "help," but she was well aware of the distinctions as she grew up in the deep south and also felt the sting of not being "good enough."
She told me about a time when she and four friends drove from Montgomery to Columbus. She was going home from school to see her family, the rest had other plans when they got there. When they dropped her off at a bus station, where she planned to get a ride home, the local police stopped them all - because one of the friends was a black airman. They were all hassled. My mother was called a prostitute - and after an hour of interogation, the local yokel cops let them go.
However, it stuck with her; the hatred that being in the company of one black man, her friend, had caused. It pushed her into the civil-rights movement like she had never thought before.
Not everyone who disagreed was acting out of guilt. People who weren't black and took a stand were brave and deserve respect. To act as if no white people had a role in the civil-rights movement is disingenuous and, quite frankly, bullshit.

Oct 30 11 - 7:22am
Johnny_Be_Good

To be clear, my last post/criticism was about the film "The Help"

Jan 12 12 - 7:53am
Cristalexi

The civil rights movement was a cover up by the white establishment to stop black people from progressing because the results of segregation had encouraged black people to set up their own businesses which they started to be successful at. After a few years the white establishment noticed black people were starting to have more influence within societybecause of their independence and successful businesses and they knew if things continued this way whites would lose their privileged position within society. This is why Malcolm X tried to get black people to continue to be independent and not rely on the white establishment. Then Martin Luther King came along who the white establishment preferred and thereby supported, and they did all they could to discredit Malcom X because they realised he was greatly influencing black people. The civil rights movements purported to give black people "equal" rights but in reality it stopped black people in their tracks from continuing on the road to becoming independent and successful. Since the civil rights movements things have gotten far worse for black people not better. Since then also whenever black people try becoming independent there is slight of hand from the white establishment to stop them. Black people are forced into doing the low paying maintenance jobs within the white system which stifles their success and keeps them in the ghettos. There are only the token black successful people who are dependent on the white system and because of this do nothing to help their fellow blacks. This is the same reason why the white establishment is also against muslims because they have no influence over their businesses and success within society. Again, this slight of hand to get people to rise against muslims by saying they are not integrating is an attempt to stop their success and independence because this will result in whites losing their privileged position within society. These civil rights movement films always have a white person as the hero. Crash is a prime example of this where the racist white cop saves the black woman at the end of the film.

Feb 03 12 - 11:51am
Megan

Couldn't agree more withCrisalexi.WE need to up the ante of our analysis and understand the subtle enforcement that Holloywood continues to indulge in with regards to race and the 'the Black Question.' And having known the Biko family I can assure you that Donald Wood's role in Biko's life as depicted 'Cry Freedom ' life is overstated. Invictus is another ball of mushy ,White centric , garbage pretending to be history.Spare me thedefensiveness people and admit thatBlack people and Black stories are still being misappropriated and misinterpreted to appeal to White audiences, white guilt and white intepretations of history and their part in that history.

Aug 31 12 - 7:39am
vixent

EVERY culture has an instance of hatred and despicable behavior towards another...if you dont believe that, go ready a book of history (several in fact as we all know the writers of history often write biased views) If you cant read I suggest the History Channel :D