In Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” discusses the misinterpretation of African Americans in the arts. Accordingly, African Americans have been perceived a certain way, and therefore, have images that remain stagnant in the culture of American Arts. Langston Hughes writes, “He is never taught to see that beauty. He is taught rather not to see it, or if he does, to be ashamed of it when it is not according to Caucasian patterns.” In this quote Hughes is referring to the creation of the arts. So often have African Americans been shunned from the exploration of creativity—mostly due to the inequalities still present from slavery.
Mandingo, a 1970s film, clearly illustrates Hughes’s theory behind the detrimental African American image. Mandingo is a slave, sold into the hands of an unfair white owner. However, Mandingo’s sole responsibility was to sexually satisfy the white female owner. this corresponds to the negative stereotype that all African Americans are overtly and overly sexual—when, in reality, sexual endeavors were forced upon the disadvantaged slaves. In this trailer, we can see that the African American female slave is objectified and perused for a sexual favor by a white man. Yet, she seems whole heartedly willing—which, as Hughes’s would clarify, is a misrepresentation.
Therefore, I move to say that Hughes’s observation is not only found in the Negro artist, but also in the artist’s Negro subject. It is through art where our fundamental understanding of something comes from. Therefore, in theory, we see Mandigo and we automatically assume that most slaves must have participated this way—since art easily creates an over generalization problem. Ultimately, I think Hughes claims that through our art and the discriminations felt by most Negro artists, it is important to stray from the acceptable norm. Mostly, because if we take movies like Mandigo as truth, then the entire race is defined by a falsity. In the end, as Hughes puts it, art must be “sincere” and not done for the monetary outcome.