Racism in Pocahontas

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Racism in Pocahontas

The film Pocahontas, produced by Walt Disney films, portrays the tension between the Powhatan tribe and English settlers during the establishment of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the "New World." In examining this film using the article "Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children's Books for Racism and Sexism," it quickly becomes apparent that although there are forms of racism as described in the article (what will be referred to as ‘traditional media racism'), the crux of the film's racism is beyond blatant stereotyping and marginalization. While the white settlers clearly have a conquering ideology laced with ideas of racial superiority, this attitude is offset by Powhatan's steadfast adherence
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She then proceeds to sing "Colors of the Wind" to Smith, who is thereafter convinced of the immorality of his conquest. Once the ideas of racial superiority are no longer endorsed by Smith, they loser popularity with most of the settlers. The settlers shift is important because it devalues the strength of the Englishmen's racist ideology. Although the antagonists of Pocahontas are racist, because they are synonymous with other starkly negative qualities, there is not an overall racist message sent to viewers of the film. Furthermore, the change in adherence to racist thought undermines the value that absorbing a message would have for a child having his/her first exposure to active racism. The strongest aspects of racism are all found in relation to the fact that the history of English settlers in "The New World" was substantially changed by the Disney scriptwriters. The facts of what really occurred were altered to suit the Disney agenda. For example, Pocahontas would have met John Smith when she was just entering puberty, not when she was a voluptuous young woman (Warner, ). It is also factually inaccurate to portray a love story between the two characters, as John Smith and Pocahontas never fell in love (Ibid). The two protagonists of the film were not responsible for the mollification of tension between their

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