Storytime: Looking for the African

A while back on this blog, I mentioned how my father taught me to always "look for the African."  It was a weird little trait of his, but I suspect many POC do it or at least something similar.  It's basically when you're watching a predominantly white show, film, or what have you, and your mind automatically goes to the darkest person there - regardless of their actual ethnicity.

Years back, in high school, I was home watching Lord of the Dance with my dad and in his mind, Irish dancer Gillian Norris was "the African" of the show, hence her casting as the Morrighan the Temptress (we really liked her hair).

Peep her solo dance, entitled "Gypsy" (cue *facepalm*)


For this version, a top commenter writers: The dance steps I think have completely lost their irish roots and the costume designer has a place reserved for him in hell.

Comments

  1. Leo Princess9/26/12, 11:45 PM

    "It's basically when you're watching a predominantly white show, film, or what have you, and your mind automatically goes to the darkest person there - regardless of their actual ethnicity."

    Watching the first Mickey Mouse Club reruns on Disney Channel (waaaaay back in the '90s), I experienced this with Annette Funicello. She isn't Black in the least, but my mind made her the closest to having a Black girl on a 1950s Disney show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Called it. Knew it wasn't just us.

      Delete
    2. Most certainly not. The character/person that is the least white always gets my attention.

      Delete
    3. Leo Princess
      "It's basically when you're watching a predominantly white show, film, or what have you, and your mind automatically goes to the darkest person there - regardless of their actual ethnicity."

      Conversely, whites go to the theater and instinctively center on the white characters, all but ignoring characters of color. Some whites have come to believe that because we make up only 12 percent of the population we should only be seen twelve percent of the time. Some take it further by applying that 12 percent to movies and sitcoms as well. So ostensibly they’re only comfortable looking at us for 14 minutes in a 2 hour movie.

      @GoddessMaverick
      “Definitely did this, especially with Disney movies. I remember watching Luck of the Irish where the love interest was dark skinned. I immediately claimed her as my avatar and almost felt betrayed when she did a dance in a sari at the end because I was once again left out.”

      That’s why Disney’s, ‘The Princess and the Frog’ needed the blonde blue-eyed character, to pull whites in, for they may not have come otherwise. That’s what bothered me about the animated feature, the fact that they could not tell a black woman’s story in a setting absent of whites. Whites used the feature to insert themselves into the narrative, believing themselves to be central in all things. The white woman remained beautiful and relevant to the plot- while the black woman went as an amphibian for most of the flick.

      Delete
    4. @ M. Gibson

      I agree that the Black female character was featured as a frog for most of the movie, but even if she were White, she still would have been a frog. Yet and still, I felt that she was mainly featured as an amphibian so that the White movie attendants would forget, at least for a while, that she was Black.

      Delete
    5. Very Good point. But when I think of Cinderella, Snow White- Princess Aurora, Princess Jasmine or Rapunzel in Tangled I don’t see them as anything other than beautiful women. Disney had the chance to tell a story through the countenance of a beautiful black woman, not a frog. But like you said, portraying her as a frog made the story easier for whites to digest. Throw a blonde blue-eyed counterpart in there and you’ve a wonderful story that seemed as much about the white woman than it did the black one.

      Delete
    6. Still haven't seen Princess & the Frog. Still refuse to.

      Delete
  2. Definitely did this, especially with Disney movies. I remember watching Luck of the Irish where the love interest was dark skinned. I immediately claimed her as my avatar and almost felt betrayed when she did a dance in a sari at the end because I was once again left out. :(

    Side Note: Am I the only one tired of the narrative of "tempting dark giant cat girl"? Like "Ooo she's the exotic one! Let's put her in leopard print and tight clothes so the audience knows she's bad and trying to sway the heart of the great white hype from the blonde(very rarely brunette) girl in light colors and flowing fabric."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Regarding "Luck of the Irish", the girl was a very dark-skinned Latina, because she wears a Spanish "Senorita" costume in the beginning of the movie and ends with a Native American costume at the end. And her father was featured and he was clearly Latino. Not to mention her name was Bonnie Lopez. I don't recall her wearing a sari, so I doubt she was supposed to be South Asian Indian.

      Delete
    2. Wow, it really has been a long time since I've seen that movie! Thanks for the correction.

      Delete
  3. Usually if you're not blonde and blue eyed you'll get noticed, but generally the person who is the darkest gets my attention or if you have some unique feature that's different from the usual Blonde hair blue eyes and don't look like a fucking blow up doll you'll get my attention.

    Which is why girls with black hair get my attention ALWAYS, and girls who have afrocentric hair (because I'm into capoeira I seriously appreciate the culture that goes with it along with some of the cultural hair styles you might have seen)...all in all I love Afros or kinky hair. Idk why but I love it. But to be completely honest I don't like women who look like Barbie dolls.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

This blog is strictly moderated. Everyone is now able to comment again, however, all Anonymous posts will be immediately deleted. Comments on posts more than 30 days old are generally dismissed, so try to stay current with the conversations.