Melvin Waiters

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Essay # 2
Melvin D Waiters
Black Images

D.W. Griffins movie “The Birth of a Nation” and Oscar Micheaux's movie “Within the Gates” were very similar in their depiction of African Americans during the early 1900s. The similarities for me were; in “The Birth of a Nation” whites were considered to be our Savior by saving the happy-go-lucky slaves from the new fiendish free slaves. In the movie “Within the Gates” the rich white woman was their Savior by financially supporting the black educational institution, they could not have made it without her support. D.W. Griffins movie blacks are seen as a threat to the American way of life and if it wasn't for the good old Ku Klux Klan, whites would be treated like second-class citizens ironically as blacks had been treated. Micheaux’s approach was for blacks to get away from the thieving, ignorant Negroes, who were continuing to keep us down (Not the centuries of slavery that we just come through). We had to educate ourselves and our children to do better in life so we can be accepted by white society. But we must remember the times, in the early 1900s blacks are not quite 50 years out from slavery and sentiments among white America especially in the South had not changed about black people. You had Jim Crow keeping his foot on the necks of African American’s with the intent of keeping blacks oppressed. So the “The Birth of a Nation”, hit home for many whites in America and perpetuated the negative stereotypes that whites already perceived about blacks. Southern whites truly believed that black slaves were happy and content with their living conditions. Oscar Micheaux’s movie “Within the Gates” although it had many of the same stereotypes depicted in the “The Birth of a Nation” had at its core a theme that was for blacks to better themselves to combat these negative stereotypes that has been placed upon them by white America. The images like, the sinister gangster that goes about gambling and murdering at will was not...
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