It is ludicrous how the issue of race is interjected into the most mundane issues in this land of the free and home of the brave. Hollywood is currently one of the most active rings in this three-ring-circus that we call American race relations. The latest explosion revolves around the remaking of the fictional story of Annie that is produced by two icons of the Hip-Hop community, Will Smith and Jay-Z; I must add that they are two of the fiercest emcees to ever pick up a mic as well. I challenge anyone to go back and listen to the early DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince recordings — Brand New Funk, in particular — and you will see that ‘Prince’ was one of the nicest emcees ever, and his partner, The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff is undoubtedly the best scratch DJ Hip-Hop has EVER produced. Yet I digress.
I have studied the issue of race in America for the past thirty-years so there is very little that surprises me; so I already knew that significant portions of white America would be furious that the new Annie was African-American. Never mind that Annie is a fictional story, I knew that whites would be aghast at the insinuation that she was anything other than white. As an individual who writes on racial matters, I intuitively realized that this would be fertile terrain. However, I admit that I did make one error in my evaluation of this situation, that being, I thought that I would have to wait for the films debut to gauge white America’s reaction. To my delight, it did not take that long. The moment that white America saw the movie trailer, their reaction of disgust and anger was unmistakable.
One of my favorite activities with my son is to go to the movies; he chooses the movie, so we invariably end up watching something that he wants to see; usually an animated movie or one focused upon a children’s adventure. It was during several of these forays to the movies that I was provided glimpses into white America’s feelings regarding the reincarnation of Annie. I sat in a theater and heard white moviegoers fall completely silent when they realized that a little Black girl was the new Annie. During subsequent visits to the movies, many whites shouted obscenities at the screen or boorishly booed the trailer. I thought their reaction simultaneously juvenile and significant as it revealed often hidden aspects of the white belief system; a thought pattern that is simultaneously schizophrenic, hypocritical, and rife with irony on racial matters.
Whites took their views to Twitter for the entire world to hear their righteous indignation regarding this alteration to Annie’s racial identity.
- “They turned Annie black. I don’t have a problem with black people, I have a problem with a non-ginger Annie.”
- “They made a n****r Annie. Why.”
- “They’re redoing the Annie movie and making the little girl black. The fuck gonna be going on next a black snow white???”
- “Annie is not black people she’s white get real!!! Stop remaking old classics into something new. F&*k you.”
- “This is racist…Annie was a lil white red head…this is just a slap in the face…its like making a movie about 2pacs death and making him a white guy…horrible.”
- “Why does Hollyweird have to remake every movie with n****s…??
- Oh look, more anti-white propaganda!
- Annie is white! Dumb niggers.
- This is racist…Annie was a lil white red head…this is a slap in the face…its like making a movie about 2pacs death and making him a white guy…horrible
- Just go on and change Roots from black to white and see what happens.
I thought it ironic that Annie was released at the same time that Exodus, with its all-white leading cast, was debuted. I laugh internally at the irony that here you have whites, Christians nonetheless, up-in-arms regarding a fictional character’s racial identity, yet absolutely silent regarding the casting of Egyptians and Jews in Black Africa as white. Never mind the fact that the Exodus story is considered an actual event by Bible-toters. It is truly peculiar that in regards to a fictional story, whites are aghast at the racial identity of a character, while racial authenticity is a non-consideration in regards to an actual event that serves as a major pillar in their religious beliefs.
After much reflection it has become obvious to me that white privilege is so significant that it includes a demand that we will even conform to white worldviews in our imaginations. Put simply, whites demand that even in our private thoughts and imaginings that we place them front-and-center. Such demands are one of the primary reasons that since their arrival in the Jamestown colony in 1619 African-American life has been, “A hard-knock life. Instead of treated, we get tricked, and instead of kisses, we kicked. It’s a hard-knock life.” Too bad that whites fail to realize that they are the one’s who have historically been doing the tricking and the kicking.
It’s truly a hard-knock life.
James Thomas Jones III