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Why pick a black actor for the part of Chicken George?


From the novel, we know that Chicken George is the son of Kizzy and her white slave owner. However, they picked a black actor for the part, while he's supposed to be a mulatto!

A friend of mine told me that picking a mulatto male actor would have been controversial at the time, however can someone clearly explain this to me. Thank you!

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The casting was definitely off but Ben Vereen played the part well.

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Hey sure did! He was amazing :-)

Don't hate me but Ben Vereen is my favorite actor!!

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Not every mulatto child will come out looking like Lena Horne or Michael Jackson.

As Alex Haley himself once said during one of his lectures, any colored person who was born with brown skin (however dark it may be) can be certain of the fact that somewhere in their past white blood mixed with the black. According to him, the only true "black" people were those he saw in Africa, who were almost literally coal-black.

So, by that reckoning, virtually the entire "black" cast of Roots was, in fact, mulatto.

So the casting of dark-skinned but still brown (as opposed to Ethiopian black) Ben Vereen as the mulatto Chicken George wasn't entirely amiss.

But then again, if you look at the surviving archival photograph of Chicken George (Alen Haley used family photos in his lectures) Chicken George was very, very dark-skinned.

http://peelslowlynsee.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/alex-haley-master-of-all-media-pt-2/

"If you don't know the answer -change the question."

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"Not every mulatto child will come out looking like Lena Horne or Michael Jackson."

Lena Horne was BORN with her complexion, Michael Jackson was not.


SEE IT, BELIEVE IT, CLAIM IT, RECEIVE IT !!!

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True, Michael Jackson is really black. He was born black. He bleached himself to look the gruesome way he does know.

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But he wasn't when the post to which I am responding appeared.

I, too wondered why they chose an actor darker than Leslie Uggans to play Chicken George when he was half-white. But I wasn't the casting director.

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This is old, but it's now the year 2010 and it's been medically proven that Michael had vitiligo and it is my understanding (according to his mom that is body was still mottled) and that only the skin that could be skin was lightening to match with the depigmenting of his skin that was going on.

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pauliek

This is old, but it's now the year 2010 and it's been medically proven that Michael had vitiligo and it is my understanding (according to his mom that is body was still mottled)
"Mom said so" is not medical proof.

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pauliek

This is old, but it's now the year 2010 and it's been medically proven that Michael had vitiligo and it is my understanding (according to his mom that is body was still mottled)

"Mom said so" is not medical proof.


As it's been said, it's been medically proven that Michael Jackson had vitiligo. Look it up and stop the ignorance.

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>>> Update <<<

- pauliek

This is old, but it's now the year 2010 and it's been medically proven that Michael had vitiligo and it is my understanding (according to his mom that is body was still mottled) and that only the skin that could be skin was lightening to match with the depigmenting of his skin that was going on.


Well now that court evidence shows you to be a fool, care to change your story?

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2043059/Michael-Jackson-death-trial-Dr-Co nrad-Murray-tried-retrieve-whitening-cream.html
Michael Jackson's assistant today told the court that Conrad Murray was anxious to return to the singer's mansion after they left the hospital to retrieve skin whitening 'cream'.

Murray told Michael Williams that the cream had to be kept away from view because he did not want the world to know about it.

Story is complete with photos of the chemical found next to M.J's bed.

The guy was a freak.

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[deleted]

"Stoopid?" It's "stupid." It was "stupid" when I learned to spell, and it's "stupid" now.

This is like when someone trying to sound intelligent calls someone a "looser."

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Who cares what you think? Why you are you even watching? Why do you care enough to even respond? His autopsy is medical evidence, moron.

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Well now that court evidence shows you to be a fool, care to change your story?

From the article that you linked to:

"When police eventually searched the house they found two types of skin whitening cream, both used by the singer to treat the condition vitiligo."

So your source agrees with the person you were arguing with and contradicts you, and yet you had the nerve to call them a fool.

Michael Jackson had vitiligo. In his younger days he used makeup to darken his skin. When it got past a certain point, he used makeup to lighten his skin. In both cases it was to give him an even complexion, not to turn him white. My sister has vitilogo, and it makes skin blotchy; this is what he was correcting.

His plastic surgery is another story.

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bok602 ,
You do not know that much about history and Africa.

According to him, the only true "black" people were those he saw in Africa, who were almost literally coal-black,
------- Not all peoples of Africa are coal black, there are other sections of Africa where the people are light, particulary south africa, ethiopia, eritrea, etc


So, by that reckoning, virtually the entire "black" cast of Roots was, in fact, mulatto.
--------Mulatto is an offensive term first of all derived from the latin language to mean an offspring from a mule and a donkey.

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Please be aware that rather than esposing any views of mine, I was referencing Alex Haley. I cited my sources and gave background to support them.

Whatever his views, scholarship or terminology were are his own; that they are what they are, do not blame me.

My only point or purpose in adding to this post was to respond to the somewhat off-base question as to why an actor (of whatever skin color) was chosen to play Chicken George. I also point to the fact that the original poster used the term mulatto.

No offense or disrespect was implied, intended, nor should in any way be inferred.

"If you don't know the answer -change the question."

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Well hey...it was just a movie. It was something for us to see and help us understand that we didn't just "appear" in America. The characters don't always have to be exactly how they were in real life. All Haley needed to do was present us with what happened when our people got off the boat from Africa. Basically, the people who were chosen for the movie were just visual aids. Futhermore, the actual events in the movie were not all together true either. Some things in the film could not be proven, however, they were added anyway. I mean, if you want to be historically accurate, I can easily say why didn't Haley get REAL Africans who spoke the language of Gambia, rather than theater actors speaking English as if they're from England instead of Africa? We can go back and forth all day with this issue. In the end, it is what it is.

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I can easily say why didn't Haley get REAL Africans who spoke the language of Gambia, rather than theater actors speaking English as if they're from England instead of Africa?

______________________________________________________________________________

Haley wrote the book, he didn't direct the series!

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Those countries you mentioned probably have mixed ancestry with arabs in ethiopia, eritrea and whites in south africa

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This such nonsense, besides the countries you mentioned there are all shades of colors in Africa. Most Cameroonian, Nigerian etc. are actually brown around the color of most African Americans they are not all "coal black." Also skin tone and mixed do not always correlate, there are very dark Eritreans and Somalis who are mixed and very light Cameroonian or Guinee (the woman who accused DSK) who aren't mixed.

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Coal black? Africa is a massive continent and believe it or not just like white people, black people come in different colours. A north African person would not be 'coal black'.

As for the whole cast of roots being mulatto, now that's just stupid. Speaking as a mixed race person, you have to have one parent of black parentage and one of white to be classed as such. Having a distant white ancestor doesn't make you mulatto.

Chicken George is completely off as a mulatto. He looks like a black person. I've never seen a person of half black/white parentage who looks so much like a dark skinned black person. Barack Obama is one of the darkest i've ever seen a mulatto. They could of at least used a light skinned black person if there were no mixed people around.

One of the things i dislike about 'roots' is the fact there aren't any proper mixed race people in it. It's like they don't even count in history as a people. It annoys me that many programs do this, and still do this sometimes now.

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Maybe b/c it wouldn't have helped promote the story Duh! Why spend money where it doesn't need spending just to add screen time for other actors I saw all shades of black people on set just b/c they weren't jennifer beal shade doesn't mean they weren't a mulatto. Genova was the only mulatto who was mentioned, besides CG, who had screen time who quote unquote looked the typical part.

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Because very few black people in America are pure African heritage. Incidents of interbreeding on the parts of slave masters where very common.

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[deleted]



Barack Obama is much lighter than a "pure" black African.

I saw a picture of him standing among his fellow Kenyans with two whites. He was clearly darker than the whites but much lighter than the blacks: a mulattoe, bi-racial, or whatever word you prefer.

His color fits in withan other first generation mulatto: Thandie Newton

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[deleted]

They sure do.

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This was from the 70's there prolly wasn't alot of mixed actors to pick from, so they were prolly faced with being accurate or getting the perfect actor. My opinion anyways.

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Now that I think about it, there have been many other biracial characters especially in the 70s that were played by an actor who appeared to be either white or black. I don't have the answer to this question, just wanted to say i've noticed it done before also. Does seem like it was somehow taboo.

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I am reading the book right now and Kinte said that the really dark skin came from certain tribes. So i am thinking not all tribes were the really dark skin.

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sometimes kids dont come out looking mixed , a couple can have kids one may be dark or light like the other parent or sometimes take after a grandparent or aunt

in other words his character's color was possible
H DLUM

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I agree. Look at the kids of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton. One is blond like their mom and one has darker skin like their dad

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According to some scientists the sub saharan black of central africa is the original black (or original human to some scientists) so to speak (look up on google) other blacks in Africa may of had contact with other races because they were near the sea and other countries. explaining lighter skin color in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Plus with us blacks in America unless your family are immigrants from Africa you are almost guaranteed to have some mixed ancestry (white spanish native american)even if it is just a drop.

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