Take a facet of crime, and then look at television shows/movies that feature those criminals as protagonists.
White serial killers.
White political corruption
White drug dealers
I mostly want to talk about this as a TV phenomenon, but pick a crime, any crime, and Western media has probably made a movie/TV series/play/etc. with a white person that romanticizes the criminal activity. No matter what, a white person can do whatever terrible crimes and still have a TV/movie fanbase that loves them.
When you see black or brown people committing crimes on screen, you are to see them thugs and criminal masterminds and people to be beat down.
When you see white people committing crimes on screen, you see a three-dimensional portrait of why someone might commit that crime, how criminals are people too, and how you should even love them for the crimes that they commit because they’re just providing for their families or they’ve wronged or they’re just people and not perfect. This is particularly a luxury given to white male characters, since there few white female criminals as protagonists.
If and of the above shows were about black or brown folks, there would be a backlash of (white) people claiming that TV and movies are romanticizing criminals and are treating them too much like heroes and that it will affect viewers and encourage violence and “thuggish” behavior. And yet fictional white criminals get to have a deep fanbase who loves these white criminals, receive accolades and awards, get called amazing television that portray the complexities of human nature. Viewers of these characters see past the atrocious crimes and into their humanity, a luxury that white characters always have while characters of color rarely do. The closest that mainstream TV has come to showing black criminals as main characters is probably The Wire, and even then, the criminals share equal screen time and equal status as main characters as the police trying to stop them.
The idea that crime can be so heavily romanticized and glorified to such a degree is undoubtedly a privilege given to white characters. The next time you hear someone talk about Dexter Morgan or Walter White in a positive way, it may be an opportunity to rethink how white people can always able to be seen as people no matter what they do, while everyone else can be boiled down to nothing but a criminal.
Excellent point, and as someone who was glorifying Captain Jack Sparrow just a few posts ago, I should reblog this, too.
Nineteen-year-old Tarikuwa Lemma is a survivor, of an international adoption scandal. When she was 13, she was effectively sold from her native Ethiopia to an American family. The corrupt “adoption agency” convinced her father, who was a widow, that Tarikuwa and her younger sisters were headed to the U.S. as part of an educational exchange program, and that they would return home every summer and on holiday breaks. Little did he know, his daughters had been placed with adoptive couples in the U.S., never to return. Tarikuwa’s name was changed against her will, and she was forbidden by her American “family” from speaking her native language. The issue of transnational adoption, its evangelical Christian component, and the exploitation of communities that sometimes results, is the subject of the book, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce, who appeared, along with Tarikuwa, on last Sunday’s “Melissa Harris Perry” show on MSNBC. Below is Tarikuwa’s satirical look at the “rescue” of children from her home country, to “better lives” in America.
Stop ‘Rescuing’ African Children Through Corrupt Adoptions
Tarikuwa Lemma appearing on Melissa Harris Perry Show April 28, 2013.
From The Grio — Nineteen-year…
Doesn’t seem to matter the background of the child, the methods of colonialism and assimilation haven’t changed.