Truth Is Not Black or White… it is more grey and fluid like Yin/Yang

By Ira Seidenstein

June 5, 2020

This book link below was posted on fb today. This is great to see such a book. I will order it. Certainly in the USA the Entertainment Industry was an ‘activist’ in making the wedge into the public’s psyche to change it’s programmed and historic racism. That activism started already in the early films, but, as the public generally was living in a fully racist society, activism had to be cunning and incrementally introduced into films. Even Sammy Davis, Jr in his autobiography explains for example how he had to enter venues by the kitchen and was not permitted to use the front entrance even though he was one of the most talented and highly revered entertainers. Then is was Las Vegas and the “Rat Pack” which he was a part of that forged an open path for him. His friends in the pack included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, who along with Jerry Lewis ensured and forced greater exposure of Davis. But there is a set of ‘politically correct’ myths including how ‘black face’ functioned. Black face though controversial was consciously turned into an important wedge. Also the so-called ‘demeaning’ roles in films as servants (historically accurate) in almost all cases (not each, not all, but most) the film makers ‘placed’ the Black Americans so that people could visually see yes they are an equal part of the society. Additionally, almost always the Black servants and characters were recognisably with a nobility. Some were the opposite, but most were positive roles even if the character’s job was as a servant. Hal Roach already in the 1920s insisted to have a Black American child in The Little Rascals/Our Gang. Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle were just a few of the most famous entertainers who fought the system and used their stardom to do so. Two books which deal with some of these themes are: “Blackface, White Noise” by Michael Rogin; and, the even politically oriented “The Eddie Cantor Story” by David Weinstein.
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Ira Seidenstein