In the October 28, 2010, issue of The New York Review of Books, Richard Bernstein reviews Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang.
As a child of the first television generation—I was six when we got ours in 1950—I devoured Laurel and Hardy, The Bowery Boys/East Side Kids, westerns, World War II movies, and especially Charlie Chan.
This was a world before the civil rights movement. But there were stirrings. South Pacific opened in New York in 1949, addressing racial prejudice as a main theme. But contrary to Continue reading “Charlie Chan: Chinaman or Chinese Man”
James Michener‘s short story collection, Tales of the South Pacific, a bestselling Pulitzer Prize winner in 1948, was eclipsed a year later by South Pacific, the blockbuster Richard Rodgers–Oscar Hammerstein musical that includes some of the most memorable songs written for the stage. One song, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” includes this verse:
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught
The converse is also true: you have to be carefully taught to be color-blind. Witness this exchange between one of my daughters and her almost-four-year-old son:
Continue reading “Un-Racism: You Have to Be Carefully Taught”