PRINT Summer 1991


Black Power / White Fear

IN 1978, Boston’s public broadcasting station WGBH—ostensibly committed to politically provocative and liberal broadcasting—commissioned filmmakers David Koff and Musindo Mwinyipembe to produce Blacks Britannica, “a one-hour film documenting blacks in Britain speaking about the socioeconomic and political conditions in which they live.”1 The film’s depiction of racism, economic exploitation, discriminatory jurisprudence, and police repression in England, and its overall antiimperialist and Marxist message—a “revolutionary message” that might speak forcefully to American blacks, who must often endure similar oppression—did not sit well with its corporate sponsors.

Claiming editorial privilege, WGBH unilaterally made damaging cuts and reassembled sequences in Blacks Britannica, effectively softening and even obliterating parts of its political message. The original film, for example, concludes

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