How the West was White-Washed
About the Book
The American West is often seen from the historical accounts recorded from the beginning of the Civil War to after the Reconstruction Era. Many of the accounts include historians that promote a European/Anglo-Saxon perspective; these accounts have often led readers to stereotypical perspectives concerning minorities. These accounts also give birth to the “white savior” concept in which white men assume the role as savior to lesser races in movies, such as saving the African Americans during slavery or in the case of many White Westerners: being the hero to Native American people. Hollywood’s portrayal of Westerners did not happen by accident, but many historians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries purposely ignored the accounts and contributions of other races. The narrative trope of the white savior is one way the mass communications medium of cinema represents the sociology of race and ethnic relations, by presenting abstract concepts such as morality as characteristics innate, racially and culturally, to white people, not to be found in non-white people. In other words, had Hollywood sought accurate information and represented it in the narratives for shows like The Lone Ranger, the show would have been cast with an African American actor since the role was based solely on the life of black lawman, Bass Reeves. A White Savior film is often based on some supposedly true story. Second, it features a nonwhite group or person who experiences conflict and struggle with others that is particularly dangerous or threatening to their life and livelihood.