The Magic Negro in Sci-Fi – YouTube

In 2013 Dr. Shawn Smolen-Morton presents “The Magic Negro in Science Fiction Film: District 9 and the Alien Uncle Tom” during a Humanities and Social Sciences Symposium.  It articulates a lot of what is disturbing to me about the Finn character in Star Wars, the Force Awakens.

Gender-wise, the Rey character is just as bad as the romanticized tough-as-nails orphan “Annie” of the film.

Desperate for validation, both feminists and African American ethnonationalists are claiming this film represents some sort of victory, while it is pandering to the lolita-femdom and jungle fever fetishists.

If it wasn’t intentional, Disney, with all its resources, and a patient and dedicated Star Wars audience, could have done better.  They could have done more to show the transition from stormtrooper slave mentality, to traitor for good reasons, to escaped slave, to Rebel fighter.  They could have been more realistic about how Rey managed to survive.  They could have not had everybody operating on social contracts and moral codes that would definitely not have been uniform.

So watch the video.  This is a brave man taking on a touchy subject.


My pronouns are whatever you're comfortable with as long as you speak to me with respect. I'm an Afruikan and Iswa refugee living in Canaan. That's African American expat in Israel in Normalian. I build websites, make art, and assist people in exercising their spirituality. I'm also the king of an ile, Baalat Teva, a group of African spirituality adherents here. Feel free to contact me if you are in need of my services or just want to chat.


  1. How farback does the Magic Negro myth go?

    Isn’t the Genie in the lamp you rub to get 3 wishes usually also a black man?

    where did that come from?

    Also, someone made a youtube video showing the connection between black male s and the apothecaries of old Europe. The shops in Germany would have a picture or statue of a black guy out front; a lot of them are still there.

    I will see if I can find it because that may be the origin of the “magic negro” myth.

    • I think the origin is simply that humans regard the other as exotic, and project all sorts of fantasies on them that would seem inappropriate to apply to the in-group. The genie was probably a Magical Negro. As I understand it, in Japan, the African man has some sexual initiatory role in their fiction because of the wow factor after WWII. The Magical Negro, Orphan Annie, and many others are just ways people from perceived higher classes exoticize and romanticize people of perceived lower classes.

  2. I have a new “Magic Negro” origins theory. Here it is:

    European explorers around the time of Columbus noticed that everywhere they sailed they ran into people darker than themselves. They found it beneficial to have a very dark person amongst the crew to serve as some type of “icon” or archetypical intermediary between the Europeans and the natives they met?

    Plus, it was important to have a good dancer/singer/musician… among the crew as those activities are very important among native people world wide.

    Or look at it this way;

    every group of people can produce lighter/paler versions of themselves because the mutation to albinism results from a loss of information. Making darker people is difficult or maybe impossible unless you start with dark people because you are not going to get new information from a random mutation.

    When you see a really dark person for the first time; it might seem like magic?

    Mathew Henson had a similar experience when the Eskimos first met him.

    • Maybe…could be that when people with unusual traits were born, the darker included, they were attributed with special powers. It could be that they were wowed by tales of foreign spirituality. There could be many reasons. The evil Voodoo thing is based in fear of retribution. Maybe this is some way of psychologically countering that by thinking that we can use our magic for their benefit. It makes us less scary.

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  • You’ve read the article, now get the t-shirt! :-D