Race Representations

If cinema is society’s most unforgiving mirror, then the Imaging Blackness exhibition can tell the civil rights story as vividly as any textbook. The traveling exhibition of film posters chronicles Hollywood’s depictions of the African-Ameri­can experience, from D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation to Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. (For some inexplicable reason, Keenen Ivory Wayans’ White Chicks didn’t make the cut.) The exhibition demonstrates how black entertainers both countered and reinforced stereotypes; e.g., Sidney Poitier winning an Academy Award for his depiction of a black handyman in the service of white nuns. Poitier’s Lilies of the Field and 42 other telltale posters are on display today through June 22 at the Central Branch of the Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library (14 West 10th Street, 816-701-3400). Though the Wayans brothers may have gotten the shaft, due props are afforded to Danny Glover, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg and Jada Pinkett Smith. Sorry, Will, maybe Men in Black III will make the next exhibition.

Mon., April 7, 2008