Hollywood: Whitewashing the Bible

Russell Crowe as Noah. Courtesy © 2012 Paramount Pictures

Following the success of the History Channel's mini-series, The Bible, which appeared weekly last March, Hollywood seems to have renewed an avenue in which Biblical adaptations are allowed to enjoy a significant amount of limelight.

Two blockbuster titles are to set to be released in 2014: Paramount Picture's Noah and 21st Century Fox's Exodus. These two films both boast a star-studded cast as directors Darren Aronofsky and Ridley Scott hope to astonish audiences by combining stunning visualizations with two of the most popular accounts from the Old Testament, the Great Flood and the Exodus out of Egypt.

As a Christian and an avid movie-goer, I was thrilled to read that these two films were in production. However, once I saw the actors cast to play the leading roles in these two films, my excitement quickly turned to disdain. Not a single one of the leading roles in either movie was given to a person of Middle Eastern descent.

Please Do Not Dress Up for Halloween in Blackface, Brownface, or Yellowface; Don’t Be Stupid

Photo campaign from Ohio University's Students Teaching Against Racism (STARS)

Photo campaign from Ohio University's Students Teaching Against Racism (STARS)

Americans love Halloween. In fact, maybe it’s fair to say we go crazy about Halloween. How crazy?

Americans spend $310 million dollars per year on costumes … for our pets. Wow.

In total, Americans spend between $6.5 – $6.86 billion dollars on all things Halloween: costumes, candy, and decoration. More wowzers.

So, as the average consumers spends about $27 on costumes, I thought it’s never too early to encourage folks to be careful how they dress up for Halloween … even if it’s “all in the spirit of fun.”

Listen, I like fun. And while my social life is nearly zilch, I like fun parties, but it’s all fun and games until someone shows up at a costume party or … err … at your front door trick-or-treating in a borderline racist costume.

Yes, it’s not too early to tell people:

Please don’t dress up in a blackface, yellowface, brownface, or any other costumers that stereotype, denigrate, or mock another culture.

Don’t caricature another real culture. Why? Because we’re a culture and not a costume.

Santa Claus and Black Face: Is Sinterklaas the Innocent Victim of Culture Clash or a Racist Anachronism?

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (aka "Black Pete") in a holiday parade in Holland, 2

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (aka "Black Pete") in a holiday parade in Holland, 2006. Photo via

Happy Sinterklaas?

Today marks a traditional winter holiday in Holland and other parts of the European Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Lille and Arras, predominantly) featuring Sinter Klaas, the forerunner of our Santa Claus, who is traditionally accompanied by a helper named Zwarte Piet (aka "Black Pete") — a young man in black face with curly black hair, thick red lips and dressed as a courtisan with a velvet jacket and frilled shirt.

Sinterklaas — who also goes by Sint Niklaas or De Sint in Holland and environs — was a stranger to me until a few years ago when Dutch-American friends introduced him to me. In my friends' home this morning, the children will awaken to wooden shoes filled with goodies.

Sounds like a charming holiday tradition from the old country. But is it simply that?