I was disgusted but I wasn’t really surprised to find out that white actor Gerard Depardieu is starring in a new movie about Alexadre Dumas.
Dumas, one of 19th century Europe’s two most spectacular Black writers—the other being Russia’s Alexander Pushkin—was the grandson of a freed Haitian slave and a French nobleman.
Dumas went on to write stuff like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo; you know, stuff that even I’ve read.
But ya’ll know this isn’t anything new.
Ya’ll know that every time a historical Black person is deemed to be of merit, his or her onscreen depiction will be done by white people as white people.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of those people so pathologically Black that I have the urge to smash every pane glass window that depicts Jesus as a white man, but anybody with even a cursory knowledge of the bible realizes that he couldn’t have looked like Jim Caviezel.
Anybody that knows Egypt is in Africa wondered what in the world was going on when they first saw the Ten Commandments starring Charleton Heston as Moses.
I mean, this wasn’t an Egypt that had its bloodline significantly lightened by being conquered by Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon and Mussolini seemingly in succession. This was early BC Egypt; the one that still looked like Harlem in the 1980s.
And a lot of times, you don’t even have to be a dead Black person to get a white actor to play you.
Mariane Pearl, wife of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, is an African-Dutch-Jewish-Chinese-Cuban.
And then (and I know this is a sidebar argument but please allow it) whenever a Black life is deigned significant enough to not only appear onscreen but also with a Black actor playing the part, there always seems to be a white story which serves as an undercurrent.