Al Barger’s Crusade for Moorish Dignity

For some years now, I’ve had something of a continuing grievance with people hating on seemingly almost every form of appearance of black people in any film before approximately Sidney Poitier. They’re all racist, or racially problematic, stereotypical, blah, blah, blah. [By the way, what exactly is the difference between a stereotype (bad) vs an archetype(good)?]

Shut up already, damn! Seems like there’s no winning. My beef with early Hollywood would be mostly that there were so few black folks. So I’m inclined to be grateful and cherish what there was that was any good. Whereas there are folk who seem to as much as actually make a living at throwing poo on the work of black actors and singers and any white folks who had the temerity to make films with them.

You COULD reasonably be offended by a lot of things. I can appreciate how just the stage name Stepin Fetchit would set progressive teeth on edge. Being a racially insensitive hillbilly, I can watch such a thing with impunity. Still, I get the point.

But then there’s bunches and bunches of looking to take everything in the worst way possible. Some folks badly WANT to be offended. They get off on feelings of righteous victimization or whatever. They CHOOSE to be offended or, worse, decide that their feelings are hurt over pretty much anything or nothing. I’m just saying that you’ve really got to REACH to get racism out of Harpo Marx swinging with the black folk At the Circus

If you really want bad depictions of black folk to bitch about, there’s MUCH worse stuff now. I utterly fail to see how you can reasonably be offended by Amos and Andy or the dreaded Stepin Fetchit, but think that these nasty Negro rap minstrel shows are somehow acceptable. James Baskett playing the part of kindly ex-slave Uncle Remus telling Br’er Rabbit stories in Song of the South is so horribly degrading that Disney won’t even make the movie available in the US. But Dre carrying on about bitches and hos and popping caps in niggers asses is groovy.

Looks to me like this would be exponentially more degrading and offensive than the worst early Hollywood depictions of blacks. OK, so Stepin Fetchit is not particularly an uplifting portrayal of black folk – if you took it that this was supposed to be what blacks are really like. But then as a white man, I would be offended by the portrayal of white men as fat and stupid as represented by, say, Laurel and Hardy. But both of these are just goofy light humor. The gangsterism of NWA and a thousand other thug rappers is truly depraved – and represented without the distance of fiction.

So I’m herewith declaring my own one man Crusade for Moorish Dignity in defense of black folk in early cinema, supposedly “racist” or not – and opposing cheap bogus claims of racism in general.

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” Titus 1:5


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.