Pigmentation Has it’s Downside

Watching “Desk Set” one night I moaned to the heavens above, “I miss the 50’s!”

Jason, thinking that he is indeed a God of some sort, answered, “Why?”

“Look at this! That computer is as big as a room and that woman is wearing pearls without irony! And the little white gloves! I want gloves!”

“Why would you want to live back then,” asked the inquisitor, “You wouldn’t have any rights!”

“Because I’m a woman? Katherine Hepburn looks pretty happy.”

“No, because you’re black.You’re a double minority.”

In my defense, I’m only half. And I’m pretty ambiguous, racially speaking. I’ve heard Mexican, Indian, solely African-American and a myriad of combinations. But I guess Jason’s point was that I’m not white, therefore, it would be the back of the bus for me.

Shortly after this conversation I watched “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. A movie I heard about from my mother long before I was old enough to watch it, forget about understanding it.

“You know, your father remembers the day his school was integrated. He was in second grade,” was what typically followed these conversations.

Racial inequality is not a new theme in classic cinema. I feel a little silly having just noticed this. “Imitation of Life” is one of my favorites that takes it on. Not the Lana Turner and Sandra Dee one, the Claudette Colbert one (also, re-makes, not a new trend). And while it’s wonderful, it makes me sad.

Delilah is black. Her daughter, Peola, is light skinned. As she gets older Peola chooses to pass and lead a better life, thus breaking her mother’s heart and essentially killing her. So overcome with grief she repents her whitey ways and takes her proper place in society. Oh, there’s also a thing about pancakes and making a famous instant mix. It’s a little like the Aunt Jemima story, but with race stuff.

even with all the heartbreak, they still got to wear hats and gloves. Jealous.


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