For a long time, African American’s together with their culture were grossly marginalized and their literature attracted little attention from the mainstream film and literature industry. This led to the emergence of African American literature that championed for the social justice and equality in the country. It was a cry for recognition and the need for equality. The African American film criticism and commentaries were marginalized in both popular and scholarly histories and critical reevaluation as noted by Anna Everett in ‘Returning the Gaze’.
The exclusion of African American critics in the mainstream led to an explosion of black American press that curved its niche in response to this exclusion. The black press continued to expand, and its pages were filled with advertisements placing emphasis on the films and movie industries. The reaction and the impact made by these African American films was so great that even some of the white press and filmmakers took notice of the emerging market and involved themselves in selective commentary and critiques of the films.
The African American press in the film making industry was creating a market of its own against a trend where various films and press in the mainstream industry were portraying African Americans in a very negative way. At the same time, they were advancing and promoting the stereotypes held by whites towards African Americans.
‘The Birth of a Nation’ was a film produced and directed by D.W Griffith. This film exposed to a greater extent the deep racism that present during that time. In its content, The Birth of a Nation cast the African American people in a dangerously negative way by portraying black men as being unintelligent and aggressive towards women. This was evidenced in the film, in two instances where black men tried to force white females to become their wives. As a result, one of the females jumped off a cliff and passed away. The other one fainted after another black man showed interest in forcefully taking her as his wife. This film also promoted the stereotype held by the majority of the white people against black people. The emergence of Ku Klux Klan, as a solution against the black power was seen in the movie. The film also promoted the ideologies that black people were violent and also advocated for violence means to counter them. This was done in the film by portraying Ku Klux Klan- a white man’s militia gang as a heroic and the only answer to deal with the black people.
There was a widespread outcry against the film both in the social circles and also in the artistic spheres of life. Many African American people hit the streets protesting against the film while accusing it of racism. Various cities were hit by the demonstration of the black people as they denounced the casting of the film
The film ‘Within our Gates’ that was written and directed by Oscar Micheaux portrayed the racial situation in the early 20th century. The century in was characterized by a...