Netlfix’s “The Harder They Fall” is a 21st Century Western that reflects a shift in story telling of Black characters today. But it’s not the first Western with an all-Black cast. Race movies, a genre of film produced in the United States during the Jim Crow Era, focused only on Black audiences.

These race films frequently featured Black Westerns and served as a social commentary of the day like “Two Gun Man From Harlem” (1938), a Black man is framed by a white woman for the murder of her husband.

However, Netflix’s new Western is “a film about a group of people, and, by default, these people are Black,” British director Jeymes Samuel said in a statement. “Their skin color has nothing to do with the story.”

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But people critical of the new Western on social media have namely been in an uproar about exactly that, skin color or colorism. While the “The Harder They Fall” is a fictionalized story, the characters are real.

It’s the actress choice for Stagecoach Mary, a six-foot tall, heavy set, dark skinned woman who was the first Black female mail carrier in the US that has critics upset. Stagecoach Mary is played by Zazie Beetz.

Though colorism in Hollywood is well documented, it’s debatable if that applies here.

Samuel accurately pointed out that, “the real Rufus Buck died at 18 years old and was fair-skinned. The real Cherokee Bill was mixed race, Native American, white, and Black. He could pass as white. We see he doesn’t look anything like LaKeith Stanfield. The real Nat Love didn’t know Stagecoach Mary. The real Stagecoach Mary didn’t know Cherokee Bill, the real Cherokee Bill didn’t know Rufus – it’s a fictional story.”


Tell Us: Do you believe this is colorism or creative license to tell a fictionalized story?

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