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White guy as Michael Jackson is Off the Wall

White guy as Michael Jackson is Off the Wall

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I watched with interest the selection of a white actor to play Michael Jackson in an upcoming British comedy. But I refused to work myself into a frenzy over this, the latest insult to black actors and black people, because anyone who understands the history of race and film should not be surprised.

Film has long been a driver of racist ideology. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to that as a black man. Unfortunately, the film industry doesn’t share that sense of awareness.

In the minds of Hollywood apologists, the racism in early films was justified by the artistry. For example, we’ve long been told that Birth of A Nation, the D.W. Griffith film based on the novel, “The Clansman,” was not a recruitment film for the Ku Klux Klan. If Hollywood elites are to be believed, Griffith’s film, which portrayed black men as rapists and the murderous Klan as heroes, was a sterling example of cinematic  brilliance.

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Photo: Detail from Michael Jackson “Thriller” album cover Robert Huffstutter / Flickr Creative Commons

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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon.