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Lost Boundaries (1949)


FredCDobbs
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If one drop of black blood makes you black, does one drop of white blood make you white?

You can pass as white, but can you pass as black?

 

These questions point up the ridiculousness of race distinctions, and how they continue to play out in this country, especially as they do so according to rules set out by the "white" culture. A family considers itself "black" because of standards defined by "whites". It has accepted a definition of itself made by others.

 

For a good treatment of this subject in literature (if not that well written) check out The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, by James Weldon Johnson (1912). It's available at Amazon, and I imagine, other places.

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While I agree about the ridiculousness of race distinctions (except for medical treatment based on actual DNA and other generic factors), the primary driver is self classification and is coming from race leaders and other groups associated with a race.

 

For example, all the drama about Tiger Woods and what race he was, was driven more by the African American community than 'whites'. Tiger (whose mom is 100% asian), didn't wish to play the race game, but was told he wasn't be proud of his African American background. So he caved. Thus I don't agree at all with your " A family considers itself "black" because of standards defined by "whites".

 

Instead there are many personal reasons as well as cultural ones why families or individuals wish to identify with a specific race.

 

Halle Berry is fighting with her ex-husband about how to define their children. She has insisted they be defined as African American. Their white father disagrees and wishes to define them as what they are; mixed raced. Whites are not responsible for Halle's POV.

 

For the record, my mom is Japanese and my dad a 'white guy' of German decent. I do NOT classify myself as belong to ANY race. I don't understand the concept of being 'proud' of one's race. But then since I have no racial identity, I find the entire discussion silly. But to most people it is core to how they look at themselves. Again, whites are not to blame for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A couple of months ago, an author & journalist, Toure', was making the rounds of talk shows & c-span promoting his memoir. He had a similiar upbringing as Howard in the film, although he is bi-racial and grew up in the 1980's. He related a story about him basically being raised in a mostly white community and went to college at Emory in Atlanta, where he got more in touch with his black roots. He said he was more berated by a black acquaintance, told that he wasn't "black." He said it shook him tremendously and it took him years to come to terms with the confrontation.

 

I don't mean to sound like a racist person and I hope relating this information doesn't offend anyone. I just thought it apropos to your post.

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I recorded Lost Boundaries and I'm sure I'll watch it at some point, but I have a strong suspicion that a drama based on "passing" might be better done by a black director who was being protected by a private army while he slept. To say it's a touchy subject is an understatement.

 

But meanwhile, did anyone catch Intruder in the Dust ? I hadn't seen that movie for nearly 40 years, and it didn't let me down. If prior to 1949 there ever was a better role written for a black actor than the Lucas Beauchamp character played by Juano Hernandez, I'd sure like to know about it. What a performance he gave, and in a more enlightened era he would have easily won an Oscar. Hard to believe that this was an MGM film, given the history of cotton candy fluff that they were famous for, though I guess by this point Schary's influence was starting to overtake that of the Master of the Fluff, Louis B. Mayer.

 

*EDIT:* A review in Rotten Tomatoes makes an interesting and valid point that Ralph Ellison said that although other post-War films did make strides in portraying black folks sympathetically, this was the first that would *not* have been hooted at by any all-black audience.

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