Racial Prejudice in The Movie One Potato, Two Potato

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“Love is blind despite the world’s attempt to give it eyes.” Matshona Dhliwayo

Trevor Noah, a South African comedian my family loves watching, was born to a Caucasian father and an African mother. At the time of which he was born and raised, his existence was taboo. Interracial marriage was illegal in South Africa, so Trevor talks about how he had to hide from the outside world during his early years. No child should be perceived as illegal or wrong for something they could not control, like their race. Just as no couple should be criminalized for marrying the one they love, just because they do not share the same race. Though South Africa and the United States are oceans apart, anti-miscegenation is present in both their societies. It is only with movies like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and One Potato, Two Potato, and the Civil Rights Movement during the same decade, that the US takes steps to change their racist and restrictive marriage laws.

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One Potato, Two Potato was directed by Larry Peerce and was made in 1964. The film is about the marriage between a black man, Frank, and a white woman, Julie, in a time where anti-miscegenation laws and racial prejudice were painfully present. Julie is divorced and has a young girl named Ellen from her previous marriage. Frank lives with his parents on a farm outside of town, which may explain his quiet, almost shy demeanor. We learn from his father later in the movie that he grew up and went to school with white people, and so Frank feels more comfortable around them compared to other black people. It is through frequent interactions with white people that he meets Julie. They begin a simple friendship and start walking together home in public. One night they do this, and a policeman tells Julie to take her “customer” elsewhere, meaning that he thought there was no way a white woman would want to associate herself with a black man unless she was a prostitute.

Afterward, Frank is furious because he knows the policeman would not have done that if he was white, but Julie laughs it off, focusing on how silly it was that a policeman would believe a soft-spoken person like herself would be a prostitute. Julie’s white privilege, in my opinion, shows in this scene, because, while Frank is rightfully angry and upset that the policeman blatantly diminished their relationship by calling it prostitution, Julie can and does ignore this, because being with Frank is the only reason why she was called a prostitute. Without a black man walking with her, there is no way the officer would have stopped to say what he did. Despite this incident, Frank and Julie fall in love and eventually get married.

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