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A few days ago I saw a note about Tobey Maguire starring in a film about Brown v. Board of Education called "The Crusaders." I almost posted about it, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. The film is based on a book by Jack Greenberg (Maguire's role in the film) which tells his perspective as a member of the Legal Defense Fund under Thurgood Marshall. Greenberg's story is both admirable and noteworthy, as his crusading against de jure segregation and discrimination continued long after Brown. He appears to be, what my grandparents would have called, "a good white man." A white hero. The reason I finally decided to write about this is another story that popped up in my news feed. Danny Glover struggled to find funding for his film on the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture who freed Haiti from French oppression and slavery. According to Glover, "Producers said 'It's a nice project, a great project... where are the white heroes?" He eventually got half of his funding from a foundation set up by Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan president, and U.S. side-thorn. What I'm getting at is this: in the black community, the tradition has been to tell our own stories, because no one else can or will. But if we want to tell those stories to a larger audience, we need capital, and the only way to get capital is to have a bankable white hero. Or Will Smith. While I'm glad the Brown movie is being made — though I'm less glad about the sexy, but one-note Terrence Howard playing Thurgood Marshall — I wonder if the story could have, or would have been told if it were from the perspective of, say, the only female member on the team. Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman to argue before the Supreme Court. The first African American woman elected to the New York State Senate. The first African American woman appointed to the federal district court. But no one would fund that movie. Sigh. In the picture, I believe it's Greenberg who is third from the right.

2 new thought(s):

Adei von K said...

i along with drew and his band are still waiting for the haitian movie. i think it'll be BIG! Like, Braveheart big!

or at least i hope it'll be big.

jameil1922 said...

"where are the white heroes?" this is why i need to be independently wealthy. so i can make every single movie that needs to be made the way it needs to be made w/o having to worry about money AND can help others fun projects in similar veins.