African American Theatre
Topics: White people, Black people, African American, Race / Pages: 8 (1931 words) / Published: Nov 16th, 2005

Over the course of approximately one-hundred years there has been a discernible metamorphosis within the realm of African-American cinema. African-Americans have overcome the heavy weight of oppression in forms such as of politics, citizenship and most importantly equal human rights. One of the most evident forms that were withheld from African-Americans came in the structure of the performing arts; specifically film. The common population did not allow blacks to drink from the same water fountain let alone share the same television waves or stage. But over time the strength of the expectant black actors and actresses overwhelmed the majority force to stop blacks from appearing on film. For the longest time the performing arts were the only way for African-Americans to express the deep pain that the white population placed in front of them. Singing, dancing and acting took many African-Americans to a place that no oppressor could reach; considering the exploitation of their character during the 1930 's-1960 's ‘acting ' was an essential technique to African American survival.
Although the black performing arts population had to take the road of survival to gain self satisfaction in the theater, it was not painless. For a long time, black people were not allowed on the stage; instead black actors were mocked by white actors in "black face." Black face was a technique where white actors would physically cover their face with black paint and act as a black character. It was from this misrepresentation of the "black actor" that the names tom, coon, mulatto, mammy and buck derived. According to Donald Bogle, none of the types were meant to do great harm, although at various times individual ones did. He proceeds to say, that they were all merely filmic reproductions of black stereotypes that had existed since the days of slavery and were already popularized in American life and arts (4-9).
‘The Tom ' represented the African-American who was badgered and



Bibliography: Bogle, Donald. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Buck. New York: The Viking asdfffPress, 1973. 4-18 and 41. Jones, G W. Black Cinema Treasures Lost and Found. Denton: University of North Texas asdfffP, 1991. 129. Lewis Jon. The New American Cinema. Durham and London: Duke University Press, asdfff1998. 47-50. Macrae, Suzanne H. "Black African American Cinema." African American Review asdfff (1997). Rogin, Michael. Blackface, White Noise. Berkely: University of California Press, 1990. asdfff41 and 76-77.

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