Thursday, February 23, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt nine)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

Hooton’s Up from the Ape received a complement when King Kong appeared on the big screen in 1933. The film shares the adventure tale of a colossal, primordial, island-dwelling ape who dies attempting to possess a young and beautiful White woman. Americans scraped their pennies together, took their minds off the Depression, and gave the film stunning box-office sales. Reviewers were captivated. “One of the most original, thrilling and mammoth novelties to emerge from a movie studio,” radiated the Chicago Tribune. Actually, King Kong was nothing but a remake of The Birth of a Nation, set in the island scenery of Tarzan, and then New York. But King Kong did not invite the controversy of The Birth of a Nation. The filmmakers had veiled the physically powerful Black man by casting him as the physically powerful ape. In both films, the Negro-Ape terrorizes White people, tries to destroy White civilization, and pursues a White woman before a dramatic climax—the lynching of the Negro-Ape. King Kong was stunningly original for showing images of racist ideas—without ever saying a word about Black people, like those southern grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and understanding clauses that had disenfranchised Black people.

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