Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Pope Videos: Where are the Black People?

Happy white family

The fourth Pope Video, called Small Farmers, is now out.

It's a minute and a half of quasi-Marxist bilge.

But that's not what I'm going to write about today. Rather I'm going to consider a question that occurred to me while reading the Bear's short review of the fourth Pope Video:
The supporting actor is a middle-aged white farmer with a hoe and one donkey.
That got me thinking. Up to two-thirds of the people in these videos are white (counting what are sometimes called "Hispanics" as white--I hope that doesn't offend) though in each of the videos there is a noticeable attempt to also include a wide diversity of other races and cultures. So there are Central and South Americans, North Americans, Europeans, Arabs, Indians, Tibetans or Burmese, South-East Asians, Chinese, Japanese and so on.

But where are the black people?

Or to put it another way, where are the Africans or people of African descent?

Africans and people of African descent do, after all, make up a sizable percentage of the world's population as well as comprising a sizable portion of the world's Catholics (and probably an even more sizable portion of the world's practicing Catholics).

But in more than six minutes of video that includes well over a hundred human figures, only two of the figures are black. It's a little boy and girl playing on what looks like a cheap metal bed in what could be some sort of shack. The clip lasts no more than two seconds.

(There is also one drawing of an African family, but in truth it might have been better not to have included that. See below for why.)

Now, I'm not one of those who believes you must have a mathematically proportionate representation of races in everything you do. But one of the underlying messages of the entire Pope Video series is the value of ethnic and cultural diversity. The whole thing is infused with a We are the World/UNESCO/United Colors of Benetton vibe that's impossible to miss. That makes the near-complete absence of black people all the more weird. Indeed, the more you think about it, the more incredibly weird it becomes.

Where is the footage of African farmers nobly toiling (Video 4) or African urbanites coughing up pollution created by capitalism (Video 2) or African families just hanging out (Video 3) or maybe even an African Muslim or Catholic or two? (Video 1).

They don't exist, apparently.

For the fun of it, I actually made a list, starting at the first scene of the first Pope Video and proceeding through the rest. Everyone who appears is counted (and that includes off-camera voices and faces and even some children's drawings). But to be fair, no one is counted more than once, even if they reappeared.

If you've gotten this far, take a look. I think it's quite interesting.

People Featured in the Pope Videos So Far

Argentinian Buddhist (white)
Argentinian Muslim (middle-eastern)
Argentinian Catholic (white)
Argentinian Jew (white)
Pope (white)
Burmese (?) Buddhists (asian)
Eastern Orthodox prelate (white)
Argentinian Jew (white)
Argentinian/European little girl (white)
Argentinian/European little boy (white)
Bicyclist wearing Respro mask (white or asian)
Muslim (?) man (middle-eastern)
Elderly Argentinian/European (white)
Turbaned man (asian)
Chinese woman (asian)
Irish/Scandinavian etc. woman (white)
White hand brushing flowers (white)
Argentinian/European yuppy (white)
Two white hands exchanging a clover (white)
Pony tailed person staring into sea (white or asian)
Argentinian/European face staring into sea (white)
White feet dangling over dock (white)
Indian mother and two sons (asian)
Two African children laughing over book on cheap bed in shack (black)
Argentinian/Southern European family on nice couch (white)
Argentinian/European father and son swimming (white)
Argentinian/European little girl (white)
Her arguing parents (white)
Her brother (white)
Drawing of Spanish family (white)
Drawing of family in front of mountains (white)
Drawing of family, including father with extremely long legs (asian or white)
Drawing of family near tree and lake (white)
More abstract drawing of family (indeterminate)
Drawing of African family in front of grass hut with father holding spear (black)
I'm not making this up.
Drawing of Arab family in desert (middle-eastern)
Drawing of happy family with red cheeks (white)
Campesino older man (white)
Campesino older woman (white)
Four campesinos (white)
Chinese/South East Asian rice farmers (asian)
Farmer with boots, gloves and head covering (indeterminate)
Pakistani or Indian farmer (middle-eastern or asian)
Tired small farmer (white)
Frenetic capitalists on floor of New York City Stock Exchange (white)
Central American migrant farm workers (?) (white)
Japanese (?) farmer (asian)
Old Arab man (middle-eastern)
One or two additional farmers (white)

Happy black family

Against the rainbow of ethnic diversity presented above, the lack of black people stands out. Maybe they're hiding in the hut.

What does it all mean? How could someone on the political left (which, let's admit it, the Pope quite obviously is) forget about black people? How could someone who many believe cares so much about people in general and the poor and downtrodden in particular, effectively ignore 20% of the world's population including many of its most poor and downtrodden, especially those on the African continent? Or to flip it, why didn't they include more black people just, you know, hanging out--sitting on couches or swimming in pools or running on beaches. Don't black people like to do those things too?

Am I alleging that the Pope and/or his Argentinian video production company is in some sense racist, at least in terms of ignoring black people or shuffling them off to the side or just not considering them to be as interesting, photogenic or important as other people?



  1. There might be a reason.

    Catholic Africa isn't exactly in love fest with the doctrinal changes the Pope is constantly pushing for.

  2. Very interesting. I'm inclined to agree with you.

  3. The Bear is in awe of, and a little worried about ;-) your diligence. You have proven that these videos, in addition to their other obnoxious qualities, are racist.

    and, the Bear might add, arctophobic.

    Black lives matter, Pope Francis.

    1. The counting only took fifteen minutes or so, which is much less time than it usually takes me to frame an original post of moderate to long length.

      Is an arctophobe someone who is pro-global warming? :)

    2. Polar Bear propaganda. Morons.

  4. This may have something to do with the fact that most Blacks actually believe in their religion especially Black Catholics. True believers (fundamentalists) are unacceptable in the Francis Church.