“Ms. Baker's success & fame in France was never fully appreciated by an American audience. American critics could not accept that a black woman could be sophisticated enough to play the roles which she had ascended to with grace and creativity. Though one of the most bright and talented performers and activists of her generation, she was often promoted in the most dehumanizing language possible as a way to sell to white audiences. She was nicknamed "the monkey" and immersed in racist and misplaced primitivism, "savage" drum rhythms, and banana-centric costumes. Reviewers also called her an "exotic bird or "jungle cat" who "could not be tamed." This dehumanization - the recharacterizing a bright and talented person as a predator or prey animal - is still a way that women are packaged for consumption. It is why the female nude in pristine nature is such a successful subject in the contemporary pinup.”
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