Samuel Jackson to pacify Tarzan Racism


By Emeka Chiakwelu

Hollywood movies depictions of Africans, Black faces and Black skins on
the silver screen have been used by the whole wide world to justify racism
toward Africans and Black people. Go to China, Japan, India and many
foreign lands that have never interacted or ever meet Black people in
their lives and already they have pre-conceived notions about people with
greater melanin visibility.
How and where did these people learn about Blacks and feed themselves with
morbid negativity on blackness? Hollywood and international News media are
the culprits.

Let us talk a little about the movie and book named “Tarzan”. In the
movie Tarzan, bad and unfathomable things happen to image and humanity of
Africans. The hero of the movie was a White man – the king of the Jungle
(man and beast) while Africans the owners of the land were depicted as

“Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the
African jungles by the Mangani great apes; he later experiences
civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic
adventurer. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the
novel Tarzan of the Apes (magazine publication 1912, book publication
1914), and subsequently in twenty-five sequels, several authorized books
by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized
and unauthorized.”

The great African American actor, Harry Belafonte once described “Tarzan”
as the Hollywood most racist movie. He even put Tarzan movies in same
category with the venomous D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. This is
how Belafonte described his experience with Tarzan movie:

“In 1935, at the age of 8, sitting in a Harlem theater, I watched with awe
and wonder incredible feats of the white superhero, Tarzan of the Apes.
Tarzan was a sight to see. This porcelain Adonis, this white liberator,
who could speak no language, swinging from tree to tree, saving Africa
from the tragedy of destruction by a black indigenous population of inept,
ignorant, void-of-any-skills, governed by ancient superstitions with no
heart for Christian charity.Through this film the virus of racial
inferiority — of never wanting to be identified with anything African —
swept into the psyche of its youthful observers. And for the years that
followed, Hollywood brought abundant opportunity for black children in
their Harlem theaters to cheer Tarzan and boo Africans.”
In the 2016 Tarzan movie, a popular Black actor, Samuel Jackson was
featured in the movie as second fiddle to Tarzan main character, who is
the hero of the movie. Showing a Black face and black body was necessary
in 2016 to deny any racism perspective and to avert any backlash that will
question Hollywood commitment to racial justice and fairness.
In Hollywood movies, Africa will ever remain the “dark continent” and
place of noble salvages that cannot survive without “Tarzan” aid and
benevolence. Many Africans can never fathom why the Hollywood gatekeepers
chose to depict the cradle of civilization, a continent of more than 55
countries as primitive and without history. But an old habit is difficult
to let go.

Thank God for the rise of Nollywood and with it Africans can begin to tell
their stories and rewrite many injustices done to them on the silver
screen. It is now left for Nigeria’s Nollywood to counteract Hollywood
propaganda and tell the whole wide world that Africans can see, hear and
Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have
appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other
important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in
many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning
including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic
Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental
objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa.
To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable
green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and
probity in Africa.

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