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magic Negro

magic Negro n. a real or fictional Black person who, especially in deference to White people, is perceived as non-threatening and servile, and appears to have a special ability to help White people. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

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  • Another example is “Crossroads” (1986), featuring not only a Magic Negro but also a Magic Oriental [and I mean Oriental, not Asian, because the point is to draw attention to the stereotype].

  • Oops, I made a mistake, moderator. I’m laughing at myself. I confused two movies, Crossroads and The Karate Kid! Crossroads has a Magic Negro character as a mentor, and Karate Kid is essentially the same story, but with a Magic Oriental character as mentor. Both mentors have something special to offer the young hero, something that apparently comes from their unique cultural heritage and thus from the fact of their otherness.

  • What about Whoopi Goldberg again, in “Ghost?” In that film she is in fact the magical conduit between the two white protagonists? I’m hearing a discussion on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, but without the context of the literary ‘magical Negro’ concept.

  • I would agree w/ Shawshank Redemption, if Andy was black.  Although Red is helpful in the beginning, since he’s the narrator, you see his emotions and shortcomings.  He also has a sordid past – the murder.  He also tries unsuccessfully with the same ‘speech’ again and again to gain freedom with the parole board.  Andy appears, makes everything better with his wit, wisdom, and magical abilities.

Further reading

Coinkydink (episode #1505)

Sometimes it’s a challenge to give a book a chance: How many pages should you read before deciding it’s not worth your time? There’s a new formula to help with that decision — and it’s all based on your age. • Have you ever...

Pat and Charlie Folktale

There’s a story in the African-American folktale tradition about two tired mules named Pat and Charlie. Here’s a version from American Negro Folktales by Richard Dorson. This is part of a complete episode.


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