Professor says Mary Poppins is racist because of the scene where the character has soot on her face


A U.S. gender studies professor has labeled the classic children’s film “Mary Poppins” as racist in a recent New York Times op-ed.

Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a professor at Linfield College, pointed to a scene in the 1964 film where Mary Poppins’ face is covered in black soot from a chimney.

“When the magical nanny (played by Julie Andrews) accompanies her young charges, Michael and Jane Banks, up their chimney, her face gets covered in soot, but instead of wiping it off, she gamely powders her nose and cheeks even blacker,” Pollack-Pelzner wrote in the piece published Jan. 28.

He goes on to allege that the late P. L. Travers, who authored the series of children’s books, was a racist.

“This might seem like an innocuous comic scene if Travers’s novels didn’t associate chimney sweeps’ blackened faces with racial caricature. “Don’t touch me, you black heathen,” a housemaid screams in “Mary Poppins Opens the Door” (1943), as a sweep reaches out his darkened hand. When he tries to approach the cook, she threatens to quit: “If that Hottentot goes into the chimney, I shall go out the door,” she says, using an archaic slur for black South Africans that recurs on page and screen.

“We’re in on the joke, such as it is: These aren’t really black Africans; they’re grinning white dancers in blackface. It’s a parody of black menace; it’s even posted on a white nationalist website as evidence of the film’s racial hierarchy,” Pollack-Pelzner continued. – READ MORE

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