Unforgivable Blackness is a film based upon the legendary boxer Jack Johnson and his life experiences as a black man during a discriminatory and racist time in America. The film presents Johnson as a confident and poised man. He was born in Galveston, Texas and knew he was meant to be and do something special with his life.
As he got older, Johnson found a love for boxing. He first started out only fighting other black men. Once Johnson realized he was a lot more talented than most of his opponents, he wanted to go against white men as well. Many refused to fight a black opponent until money was involved. The Heavyweight Championship was a huge publicly known event around the world and Johnson was ready to take on the challenge. The match was held in Sydney, Australia and Johnson faced a Canadian man named Tommy Burns. Johnson quickly defeated Burns and found him as a rather easy opponent. This marked a day in history as Jack Johnson was the first ever African American to win the heavyweight title. Much of the world did not like this result and were calling for a “Great White Hope” to come and claim the title back. A man named Jim Jeffries agreed to come out of retirement just to fight Johnson. Much anticipation let up to this match and ultimately Johnson was able to win the match and became the first ever boxer to knock down Jefferies. Although this was a victory for Johnson, violence and riots broke out due to the outcome of the match.
On top of all the glory and fame, Jack Johnson challenged white supremacy by claiming masculinity through his romantic relationships with white women. America was still very racist on its views and beliefs of the African American community and especially on relationships between black men and white women. Lynchings were becoming more and more popular and one of the “most common accusations for lynching African American men was for associations with white women” (Unforgivable Blackness). Johnson did not let this stop him and dated several white women publicly. Many people saw this to be unorthodox and Johnson was punished in many ways such as being “refused by the finest hotels in British Columbia, Canada and also having his hometown parade in Galveston cancelled” (Unforgivable Blackness). Not only was Johnson criticized by white people, but African Americans as well. African Americans did not like the “white man lifestyle” that Johnson was taking on. They believed he needed to stick to his roots and date women of color. Johnson eventually paid the price for his relationships with white women when he was convicted of transporting an unmarried woman across state lines for “immoral purposes,”

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