April 10, 2013

"How Roger Ebert Embraced Black Beauty" — another headline I misread.

I'd forgotten I had the page open to "The Root." An hour ago, I'd clicked from the front page of The Washington Post on a teaser that read "Time for Jay-Z to set down the mike?" and I'd opened a tab that had the more stolid headline "Jay-Z Is More Interesting as a Mogul Than as a Rapper," which I didn't feel like reading. So a person I'm not interested in is more interesting one way rather than another. The teaser made me think Jay-Z had said something that might be bloggable.

(By the way, I notice that on The Root page, the spelling "mic" is used, though on the main WaPo page, they use "mike." We've had this spelling discussion on the blog before — more than once. And I noticed a few days ago, Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the subject: "We in broadcasting spell the abbreviation for microphone 'mic,' m-i-c. We don't say m-i-k-e.")

Anyway, a tab was open — among many open tabs, things I hadn't clicked off and might get around to — and — without realizing I was at The Root, the WaPo offshoot that specializes in issues relating to black people — I glanced at that headline in the sidebar:  "How Roger Ebert Embraced Black Beauty."

I know that Roger Ebert was married to a black woman. Here's a nice Buzzfeed piece: "Roger And Chaz Ebert's Beautiful Marriage, In His Words."

But in my experience, "Black Beauty" is the title of the book that lined up next to "Heidi" on the bookcase in my sister's childhood bedroom, which made it seem to me like one of the 2 most famous and revered books of all time

I grew up thinking everyone idolized the girl Heidi and the horse Black Beauty. Whatever else I have learned over the years, that's how my brain is wired.

How Roger Ebert Embraced Black Beauty...

Wrong image!

From the "Black Beauty" link above:
Black Beauty is the prettiest young horse in the meadows, and spends many happy days under the apple trees with his friends Ginger and Merrylegs. But this easy life comes to an end when Beauty is sold and goes from farm to inn to cabhorse in London, enduring rough treatment from foolish and careless masters. Beauty remains faithful, hardworking, and full of spirit despite his trials, and through him we learn that all horses and humans alike deserve to be treated with kindness.
Oddly enough, Black Beauty sounds like the Uncle Tom of horses.


LarsPorsena said...

As a reviewer he did embrace 'The Black Stallion'. Of course, this opens up a whole different line of inquiry.

edutcher said...

Obviously racist.

Send her to re-education.

Nonapod said...

Didn't they do a remake of that a couple years back? Or am I thinking of My Friend Flicka?

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, there was a 1994 remake. That the book was made into a movie (more than once) was one more reason to see Ebert and think of the horse.

pduggie said...

What is the "lesson to many" of Ebert's black wife?

Lem said...

Sometimes I like to close my eyes when I'm listening to someone speaking... I find that my mental running picture of what the person is saying runs/streams better that way.

Of course it gets misread by those who want to project their own freaking image at my expense... this burly guy shook me... he put his paws on me... and it bothered to no end... I lost all concentration on what the speaker was saying and it led to an encounter with that person later.

MayBee said...

Yet when Ebert met his wife -- who is a dark, chocolate-brown, voluptuous, African-American woman -- he was at the height of his career. He was a nationally recognized 50-year-old man with power and money, and the woman he found so beautiful that he actually made up an excuse to garner an introduction to her in a crowded restaurant is someone who epitomizes African-American beauty. Not the Eurocentric standard that society keeps trying to convince us that men of his stature -- and men, period -- seek. This is not the first time Ebert displayed an appreciation for such beauty. He previously squired Oprah Winfrey.

How weird that this heavy-setness is supposedly the epitome of black beauty. What if he were married to a heavy white woman? Is that something amazing?
What if he were married to Iman? She's African and beautiful, would he be lauded for embracing that?

This reminds me, again, of the articles lauding Elizabeth Edwards for her homeliness. Why do women write articles praising other women for being heavy and marginally attractive?

furious_a said...

Wouldn't a jungle cat be a more apt metaphor than a horse?

wyo sis said...

Making a big deal of finding beauty in the "other" is at least racist. Right?
I mean if you notice race it's racist right?
If you notice weight it's sizest?
If you notice gayness it's bigoted?

Lem said...


William said...

A black guy who marries white comes in for a considerable amount of flack. A white guy who marries black is praised for his tolerance. Are these different standards sexist or racist? ....I wonder what would happen if Jayz and Beyonce adopted a white child from Romania.

bgates said...

I wonder what would happen if Jayz and Beyonce adopted a white child from Romania.

They'd send the little guy to boarding school in Cuba in the hopes that he could someday return his birthplace to the glories of the Ceausescu regime.

bgates said...

This is just a rewrite from that article, "What Heidi Klum Loved About Her Big Black Stud".

ampersand said...

Headline should read "How Roger Ebert embraced Black Beard"