Tarzan and Kala

22 Jul , 2015  

Whenever people start talking about race I actually dread the conversation. Not because as a white middle class female I feel guilty or awkward talking about race, but because I grew up without seeing the color of people’s skin. I mean of course I saw differing skin colors, but I, even as a child, saw people of all different sizes and never thought about an inferior or superior race. I still today see no difference in humans that have black skin or brown skin or purple skin or whatever. But society isn’t on board with me, and most people are uncomfortable talking about race.


The terminology for races is the first thing that baffles me. I understand who white people are, but no ones skin is actually white, by an artists definition, nor is a black persons skin actually black. We’re all really the race of tan just in differing degrees, but that’s just a funny piece of information that I always laugh at in my head.


Another anti race idea that I like to think about is the movie of Tarzan. It’s a really great metaphor for racial equality and inequality if you analyze it. Tarzan’s foster mom, Kala, is the symbol of racial equality; she tells Tarzan even though they look different, they still have eyes, a nose, ears, and a heart that make them equals. The ape leader, Kerchak, is a symbol of racial oppression. He sees Tarzan as different and therefore doesn’t want him to be apart of their family. After proving himself (it only takes around 15 years… talk about a tough leader), Kerchak finally accepts Tarzan. Symbols of race are found in many movies and books because it is such an important part of life, especially in America. We’re the famous melting pot, yet the races aren’t all mixed together as we would like to think, their divided and organized into a hierarchy.


I think that the use of color blind racism is helpful when used state that “race neutrality is the best route to racial justice,” but using color blind racism as a cover for prejudice is not acceptable (Croteau, Hoynes 283). In my opinion, the idea of race is largely created by ourselves. If every child was raised as I was to see no social advantages or disadvantages to being a certain race, the huge issues with racial inequality that face our society today would not be as big of a problem. I watched the video about growing up black, and the young man was talking about being questioned by an officer just because he was walking between his school buildings to get to class and I was baffled by this situation. What was the police officer thinking? Just because the boy’s skin color was black makes him a negative influence or bound for trouble? Skin color has nothing to do with the future of a child. The environment you grow up in has everything to do with a child’s viewpoint of themselves and their role in society.

Raising children to see themselves as white or black or Hispanic or Asian holds certain ethnic value that creates culture. This is a positive outcome that ethnicity creates, but can also be a negative one. If you live in fear or hate of what you do not know like Kerchak in Tarzan, learn to accept others as Kala did and racial inequality will surely crumble.




1 Response

  1. I worry I’m about to tarnish a childhood memory (sorry!) but at the time of its release, Disney’s Tarzan drew the ire of some civil rights groups for its implicit racism. Disney tried to deal with the overt racism of the original story by simply eliminating all the black characters, leaving only white people and apes.

    Some background from the time:


    To this day, Disney sometimes can be tone deaf on these issues: http://thegrio.com/2015/05/15/disney-princess-north-sudan/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Privacy Statement