Hello, people of color!
Are you tired of bearing the burden of walking around as the scary, dark-skinned demon who makes white women clutch their purses in Wal-Mart parking lots and clinch their anuses in elevators?
Have you grown weary of candidates for president painting you as a Muslim bogeyman who needs to be expelled from the country, a Mexican rapist who can only be stopped by a brick-and-barbed-wire blockade or, even worse, a superpredator?
Are you exhausted from living in fear of being shot in the face and having the life snuffed out of your lungs for the simple act of reaching for your wallet? Or your license? Or your dreams?
Well, now you no longer have to worry about any of that, because with The Root’s new tutorial, we can eliminate all your worries and fears by teaching you how to become a Magical Negro!
I’m sure you are familiar with the Magical Negro. It’s a Hollywood trope created specifically to make Caucasians teary-eyed during the third act of bad movies. The Magical Negro is always impossibly old, wise and oftentimes endowed with Magical powers limited only to solving the problems of white people. Historically, by virtue of a hidden amendment in a 1938 congressional funding bill, the role of Magical Negro could only be played by Morgan Freeman, but after a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled in the late 1990s that any person of color could play the Magical Negro, thus opening up the genre for folks like Will Smith in Bagger Vance, Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost and Morgan Freeman in every role ever.
The Magical Negro is the white man’s idealized version of black people—a cross between faithful slave servant who walks with his head down and a superhero too conservatively demure to wear a cape and too grateful for the benevolence of white people to slit their throats for past atrocities. He may drop his “r’s” and use incorrect subject-verb agreement (because a literal incarnation of the perfect black stereotype, by definition, can't be smart), but he is the incarnation of the friendliest, most loving, loyal dream of a human being.
The Magical Negro is a pet.
And now, for the low cost of the average Hollywood film, we can teach you how to become as nonthreatening as the “Aww shucks” characters created to placate the white guilt that created the fantastic image of the faithful black man on bended knee.
At The Root’s School for Magical Negroes, we will teach you valuable lessons like “How to Shave Properly.” Any Magical Negro worth his seasoned salt knows that all Magical Negroes must keep their faces clean-shaven. It is symbolic of the masculinity that men of color have been forced to suppress or erase since—never mind all that. You should just know that black men emasculate themselves because dark-skinned manliness gives white people the heebie-jeebies, so therefore, all beards and goatees are forbidden. At most, you can have a thick mustache as if you were a lost member of the Whispers, but that’s it.
Our course titled “Conjuring and White Magic 101” will teach you how to access the superpowers that white people apparently think all black people have. This course also teaches the restriction that the use of all supernatural gifts is limited to the exclusive purpose of advancing the plot or the lot, luck or station of white people. Like how—in The Green Mile—John Coffy (played by a clean-shaven Michael Clark Duncan, of course) was an inmate who could heal the sick and control electricity, time and space with his mind, but he couldn’t free himself from a pre-midcentury jail cell.
The belief in Magical Negro powers extends beyond the screen, which explains why white people believed that a 15-year-old Trayvon Martin attacked and beat a grown man 50 pounds heavier and carrying a gun, or that Sandra Bland magically acquired a trash bag in a jail cell where no inmate in the history of that jail remembers having access to one. Then she figured out how to tie it in a noose, knowing that it would be strong enough to hang herself—even though she could have done the same thing with the clothes she was wearing for the 72 hours she was held. Voilà … magic!
Other courses at SMN (School for Magical Negroes) include the following:
- Introduction to Being Patient With White People (taught by the writers of Driving Miss Daisy)
- The Laurence Fishburne Method of Knowing More Than Actual Hero of the Movie Without Offending White People (I still don’t understand why Morpheus wouldn’t just do all the stuff in the Matrix that Neo was struggling to learn.)
- How to Never Raise Your Voice in the Presence of Caucasians (We believe one of the reasons President Barack Obama reached the highest office in the land is that we allowed him to audit this course.)
- Advance Shuck and Jive
- Stephen King: The Magical Negro Master (This is a graduate-level course that explores the greatest creator of Magical Negroes of all time.)
If you’re thinking this overused, simplistic trope has gone by the wayside or that no artists of any repute would submit themselves to this inane distortion of white fantasy, you must not have seen the trailer for the new Eddie Murphy film. It is literally a parody for every Magical Negro movie ever made, but we like to think of it as free advertisement for our institution of higher learning. I’m sure there are some people who watched the trailer and screamed, “Eddie, you were once a rebellious rock-star standard of black swagger who built an empire on in-your-face comedy and 100 percent black movies. Don’t do this.”
Those people don’t understand magic.
If you, too, would like the opportunity to shake off the chains of the negative connotations that society has foisted upon people of color, why not fashion yourself into a caricature of what white people want you to be: a perpetually smiling, insignificant piece of scenery meant for furthering plots and advancing the aims of good-hearted white folk? Plus, when they are finished with Magical Negroes, they don’t shoot you in the arm and claim that you were reaching for their gun. Instead, there is just a teary-eyed hug, after which the protagonist (pronounced “wyt pee-pull”) tearily watches you walk into the disappearing horizon while the credits roll immediately after a single teardrop rolls down your chocolate face.
* The School for Magical Negroes is in no way associated with #BlackGirlMagic.