More than five decades after it was first aired, an interview clip of Muhammad Ali is now going viral on Twitter. In the evocative interview, the boxer and activist examines the overwhelming representation of Whites in literature and pop culture.
Talking about the absence of Black figures from popular imagery, Ali says as a child he would ask his mother why there were no Black angels around Jesus Christ. Ali questions how he wondered why the fictional character Tarzan, who is represented as the “king of Africa in a jungle”, is a White man and not Black.
He also criticises how positive things are often associated with whiteness, while all things with a negative connotation are attached to blackness. “Angel food cake was the white cake, and the devil food cake was the chocolate cake.” He adds, “The little ugly duckling was a black duck. And the black cat was the bad luck. And if I threaten you I’m going to blackmail you. I said, ‘Mama, why don’t they call it whitemail, they lie too!’”.
This clip, taken from a 1971 BBC interview which was hosted by journalist Michael Parkinson, was posted online by a Twitter user Sanjoy Ghose. It soon gathered over 53,000 views.