Limitations Because of The Color of Their Skin

African Americans bring richness to whatever they do.

There are many professions within the communication industry, both in the literary and the Motion Picture Industries. Often these professions may cross and work together. Yet, it has been a challenge for Black Americans to break into the jobs related to these industries. Especially early in the Motion Picture Industries. 

African Americans bring richness to whatever they do. And in the beginning, it seemed white directors didn’t know what to do with the emotion brought to the table by Black Americans. 

For example- 

Sidney Poitier, In 1950, starred in No Way Out, a racial thriller about a black doctor who operates on two white racists, setting off a violent chain reaction of events. 

No Way Out was Poitier’s first movie. He was placed in a volatile position against a racist played by Richard Woodmark. There were no working Black directors in Hollywood then and only one Black star, Sidney Poitier. Poitier was the Black star Hollywood had designated its token African-American. In fact, he was the first African-American actor to achieve leading-man status in Hollywood films. In film after film, he played characters whose humanity and dignity, courage, and keen intelligence made Poitier consistently successful with, even enamored by, white audiences. For more information, see the following article at-

Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge In 1954 starred in Carmen Jones, directed by Otto Preminger. And in 1957, Dandridge and Belafonte were again paired together in Island in the Sun, a film that explored interracial romance in the Caribbean. The film, however, was fraught with compromises. 

The on-screen romance between Dandridge and actor John Justin, who played a white British diplomat, was not allowed to progress beyond dancing and a brief physical embrace. At one emotional moment, they move in for the kiss but end up just rubbing cheeks. A handshake between Harry Belafonte and white actress Joan Fontaine was the only on-screen physical contact they were allowed to have. One wonders why director-producer Darryl F. Zanuck. 

Citations Reid, Mark, Black Lenses, Black Voices.. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), 20-53 “Arthur Cooper,” Newsweek, July 19, 1971, 80 Digital Scholarship Lab© 2008–2020 The University of Richmond

Then there was Shaft 1971, starring Richard Roundtree.

MGM was struggling financially during the making of this film, so making a profitable film was a necessity. The budget for Shaft was $500,000, and it grossed an astonishing $13 million. The film was one of only three profitable movies that year for MGM, Variety; by 1976, it earned $7.656 million in theatrical rentals. [22]. The movie made enough money to save then-struggling MGM from bankruptcy.[23]

Black Americans have always had to overcome the preconception of the color of their skin and the doubt of their ability. They have always had to prove themselves worthy.

Owing to the disadvantages under which we labor, there are many flowers among us that are …born to bloom unseen, And waste their fragrance on the desert air. Maria W. Stewart Speech Why Sit Ye Here and Die

  • Reid, Mark, Black Lenses, Black Voices.. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), 20-53