Shocked as I was brought up in the Sixties believing that all cowboys were white, as there were no black cowboys in any of the Hollywood westerns I grew up watching. On the very rare occasions a black character made an appearance it was as very lowly part with clichéd lines and actions of subservience.
I now know that at least 25% of the cowboys should have been black or Hispanic, but the westerns I watched told a very different story, a very white story. Not that I took offence at the absence of black faces, that was just the way it was back then, there were no black people in Hollywood’s west.
As exemplified by John Wayne’s award-winning string of gun slinging, hard drinking, hard living but ultimately heroic characters. In reality Hollywood’s west was distorted, not true to life at the time. But this was the reality I grew up with so to see in my early twenties a black character playing a leading role was indeed a shock!
To this day I still look twice whenever I see a black character in a Hollywood western such as Django! but I’m no longer shocked, we have moved on as Hollywood looks to re-write cowboy history.
There many, many other histories distorted by Hollywood involving people of colour which need to be revisited, which is why I want A2BFour - Archive to Blockbuster - to bring diversity to the big screen through addressing the issue of why #OscarSoWhite.