Category Archives: Essays

Django Unchained and the Mask of American Race

After tackling World War II anti-Semitism with Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino has now tackled the issue of American chattel slavery with Django Unchained. Specifically Tarantino is concerned with whether slavery was good or bad. And just in case anyone has forgotten, slavery was bad. It was like very, very bad. And say what you will about Quentin Tarantino—“He’s a bloviating shitbag, but he makes great movies”—at least he stands firmly on the side of morality when it comes to the issue of American slavery, which comes as a relief because there was a definite undercurrent in American society that had begun to suggest that 19th century American chattel slavery perhaps wasn’t so bad and we should maybe reconsider its abolishment.

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The Trouble with The Help: How Kathryn Stockett’s Antiracism Reproduces Jim Crow’s Races

Recently on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Sheryl Sandberg’s name was mentioned during a panel discussion on the issue of powerful women in the workplace. Sandberg was touted as a prime example of the sort of women who have penetrated the glass ceiling to occupy traditionally male positions of power and secure tremendous (in Sandberg’s case overwhelming) financial prosperity.

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The Glass Colored Boy: Race and Theater in the Age of Obama

In recent years, American plays written for all-white casts have found new life in productions with all-black casts. Intended by their producers and directors to demonstrate the universality of their texts, these productions have in mind a project whereby the physical composition of the actors will articulate a heretofore unrealized meaning within a given text. In particular, audience members who are understood to share the important physical characteristics of the actors (in this case their skin color) are perceived as being rewarded with a new connection to a text that was previously reserved for an ostensibly all-white audience.

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