Colorism in the Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter Film and Why It Does Matter

July 11, 2012  |  

Kola Boof, Egyptian-Sudanese author and professional jump starter, has started a campaign against Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton, the production team behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, for their inaccurate portrayal of historical figure Harriet Tubman.

Releasing a statement through her Facebook page, Boof writes, “HARRIET TUBMAN…. is portrayed as “BIRACIAL” in the new “Abe Lincoln Vampire” movie…. TO ME….you have to really *HATE* Black people to portray Harriet Tubman as a Biracial woman. It reveals everything about White Supremacy and the “erasure” of Black People. Harriet was NOT Dutch speaking or Biracial. And this portrayal is really a “Betrayal”…. it does not honor her image. It OBLITERATES not only Harriet, but all Authentic Black Women.”

She also advised folks to call and write the studio and various production companies to express our displeasure about this misrepresentation. Said Boof, “We can’t change this particular movie….but we can let Hollywood know that we don’t like seeing the constant *Whitening* of Black images in films…that we DO want to see Black people in movies and not be disrespected like this. If we don’t speak up BLACK WOMEN, then nothing will change…”

Listen I know when folks hear Kola Boof’s name they instantly tune out. But while Boof may be many things to people – most of them not so nice – one thing she is, is honest as well as fierce protector of all things related to darker skinned women. And while this might be a hard pill to swallow for some, she has great reason to be.

Jacqueline Fleming, a Copenhagen Denmark born actress of African American (father) and Danish-German (mother) descent. You might have seen her on television in shows like “CSI: Miami” and “Treme” or on the big screen in movies Last Holiday and the sequel to Woman Thou Art Loose.  She has also been casted as Harriet Tubman in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

For those of you who have no idea who Tubman is, shame on you and the wack educational system you derived from. Tubman was born somewhere around 1803 to Ashanti enslaved parents and was bestowed the title as Moses for braving 19 trips into slave holding states and leading some 300 individuals to a new life in slavery-free territories – not an easy feat for a runaway slave, who had over $40,000 reward posted all over the South for her capture or death. Oh another thing about Tubman; she was dark-skinned.  Dark enough not to pass for a light skinned woman of mixed ancestry.  Which is why on one of her trips, she had to convince a light-skinned fugitive slave to pose as a white master transporting a group of slaves to a town further up the road.

Not too many people want to discuss this issue, which was evident by a column from my good friend Yvette Carnell, who recently penned a piece about this misrepresentation of Tubman in the film. For Carnell and I, who discussed this briefly on Facebook, Hollywood’s attempt to use Fleming’s image to whitewash Tubman was a no-brainer.  And in a time when black folks are bombarded with distorted images of ourselves, we felt it our duty to call it out.  However, not that many other folks didn’t see it that way and proceeded to blast her piece as trivial.  They accused Carnell of being bitter, divisive and color-conscious. After all, it’s a stupid movie about Abe Lincoln being a vampire hunter and we all know that he wasn’t in real life. Likewise, we’re all black so it shouldn’t matter, which color of blackness she exhibits.

Well I’m here to tell you it does matter.

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