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Racism is a terrible thing. And sometimes, someone will take it upon themselves to teach a racist just what a terrible thing it is. And, to do that, they decide to transform the racist (usually temporarily) into a member of the race they despise.

Not to be confused with Black Like Me. See also Karmic Transformation, You Are What You Hate.

Compare Gender Bender.

Examples of Color Me Black include:


Comic Books

  • On one occasion Spawn used his power to turn a Ku Klux Klan leader black, leaving him to be lynched by his own men.
  • Kinda subverted on an Spider-Man comic. Some members of the mutant-hating "Friends of Mankind" get the word "mutie" marked by burning iron by an angry mutant girl, Robin Vega. On their foreheads. Mutations don't have to be obvious, so they will have a hard time proving that they are not mutants.

Film

  • This is the premise of Watermelon Man.
  • A Fantastic Racism variant is used in the first X-Men 1 movie, when Magneto turns anti-mutant Senator Kelly into a mutant.
  • The Riff Trax-featured educational film Skipper Learns A Lesson does this with a dog who hates "funny-looking" dogs. After he gets covered in paint, the other dogs avoid him and he tells then they're "being silly" for avoiding him because of how he looks, then realizes that he was being silly too.
  • This was attempted on the Big Bad of Dragonheart 2 prior to the events of the movie. It utterly failed, the dragon in human form is still bent on genocide.
  • District 9 is another Fantastic Racism version, although the protagonist is not a dyed-in-the-wool racist: he simply does what he's told.
  • The Thing With Two Heads, a 1972 B-Movie. Ray Milland plays Dr. Maxwell Kirshner, a dying, wealthy racist who demands that his head be transplanted onto a healthy body. As his health rapidly deteriorates, there remains only one alternative: graft Kirshner's head onto the body of a black death row inmate, Jack Moss, played by Rosey Grier.
  • The Ralph Bakshi flick Coonskin has a scene where a racist, homophobic, and corrupt cop on the mob's payroll is drugged by Brother Rabbit (this film is a Darker and Edgier take on the Br'er Rabbit stories) in an attempt to take out the mafia. When he wakes up, he's covered in blackface and wearing a dress. Still tripping off acid, he freaks out believing he has actually become black and homosexual and begins firing his pistol randomly until a pair of police officers gun him down believing him to be a gangster.
  • Mostly played for laughs in the 1986 comedy Soul Man where C. Thomas Howell plays a spoiled rich white teenager who pretends to be black in order to enroll at Harvard on a black scholarship. The sight of Howell wearing blackface in major Hollywood movie was not without controversy, though the film ultimately shows his progression from self-centered brat to being more sympathetic to the black community.
  • A segment of The Twilight Zone Movie plays with this, where a bigot suddenly finds him self in Nazi Germany then in the Deep South where apparently several Klansmen see him as a Black Man (though his skin doesn't actually change) and later into the jungles of Vietnam during the war.

Literature

  • Ray Bradbury's "The Handler" is about a disgruntled undertaker, who defiles all the bodies sent to him with lessons they should have learned in life. In particular, a white supremacist is embalmed with ink, turning his skin 'black as night'. Memorably turned into a story for The Haunt of Fear.
  • The Story of the Inky Boys in Der Struwwelpeter, making this trope Older Than Radio.
  • In the Vows and Honor duology by Mercedes Lackey, the protagonists foil a bandit party that's been preying on caravans, slaying the men outright and slaying the women after the bandits rape them. They kill the bandits, save their leader. Said bandit leader gets transformed into a buxom blond woman, stripped naked, and sent back to his/her fellows. Do not piss the sisters off...
  • Inverted in Animorphs, where Cassie, when confronted with a racist when travelling back in time, turns herself white - into a polar bear.
  • Rod Serling wrote a story called "Color Scheme" where a racist rabble-rouser in the South gets changed into a black man; his victim (a black civil rights preacher whose youngest daughter is killed when his house is set on fire by the mob the racist guy stirred up) turns white and uses the rabble-rouser's own words against him. It ends with the preacher returned to his black self but pushed past the Despair Event Horizon and believing God Is Evil and Humans Are Bastards while the racist-- still black-skinned, what's left of him-- has been dragged to death behind a car.

Live Action TV

  • In the Mission Impossible episode "Kitara", the IMF uses drugs and a special light bulb to make a ruthless white provincial governor in an apartheid African nation believe he's actually black as part of a ploy to free a resistance leader.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, the staff of the 4077 gradually darken the skin of a White racist to make him think he's turning black after getting a blood transfusion from a Black person.
  • At the end of an episode of Bewitched, Samantha uses magic to cause a racist to see everyone as black. Including himself when he looks in a mirror.
  • There's an episode of Mork and Mindy in which Mork uses his Orkan powers to turn a bunch of racists into Latino, Black and East-Asian, among other changes (two of them were turned orange and at least one had stripes.). They were expies of the KKK, so they didn't know it until they took their white hoods off.
  • This happened in both the television and film of The Twilight Zone, where a white racist is sent back in time and perceived by those around him as black, and is sent to Nazi Germany where he is seen as a Jew.
    • There's also an episode of The Twilight Zone (2002) where a white man doesn't provide assistance to a black man in danger who turns out to be a college professor and is killed in a hate crime as a result. The white man's skin then begins to darken over time until he looks just like the victim and ends up in the same situation.
    • Sammy Davis, Jr. wrote in his autobiography that he suggested The Twilight Zone episode have a white supremacist wake up one day and he's black. Rod Serling eventually wrote the story "Color Scheme" for his anthology The Season To Be Wary. The other two stories in that collection were part of the Night Gallery pilot, but "Color Scheme" was seen as too raw even for 1970s TV.
  • "Tribunal" the 100th episode of the 90's reboot of The Outer Limits featured an ending where a Nazi war criminal whose escaped justice for 50 years put into the uniform of his prisoners and taken back in time to his own camp. His younger self shoots him for being Jewish.
  • A subversion in Diff'rent Strokes occurs, where Arnold (Gary Coleman) overhears that his (white) stepsister, Kimberly's boyfriend and date for the dance isn't very keen on black people. She decides to call him out by saying that she wants to go to the dance in make up to make herself look black.
  • An inversion in an old Saturday Night Live sketch had Eddie Murphy putting on white makeup to find out how white folks behaved if they thought there weren't any black people around.
    • Turns out that when the last black guy got off a bus, stewardesses appeared, serving free drinks, and if you went into a bank to ask for a loan, they just handed over bundles of cash, no questions asked.
  • Dave Chappelle does something very strange with this in one Chappelle's Show sketch. The sketch revolves around a black man, blind from birth, who was raised as a white man...and as a white supremacist. At the climax, he's speaking at a hate rally, dressed in KKK-style regalia so as to hide his face. When he lifts up the hood, his redneck allies just sit there with the most priceless expressions on their faces.
    • Well, the ones that still have faces.
    • Crosses the Line Twice when the host of the news show doing the story on him does a little Where Are They Now segment at the end, which reveals that although he has come to terms with being a black man, he divorced his wife "because she was a nigger-lover".
  • Subverted in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The morning after receiving a lecture fom one of her relatives about the importance of not judging by appearance, Sabrina checks herself in the mirror and is grateful that her appearance wasn't modified in the night. Harvey, however, spends the episode transformed into a beast-man, and Sabrina has to accept him before the curse is undone.
    • Also subverted when Sabrina turns Libby into a geek, forcing her out of her popular clique. Libby joins the geeky kids and manages to become their leader, then proceeds to act just as tyrannical as she always has, excluding Sabrina from Science Club for not being geeky enough.
  • Sarah Silverman does this after getting into an argument with a black man about who has it harder, the blacks or the Jews. She puts on blackface and he puts on a large fake nose and a yarmulke in order to experience a day as each other's race. Everyone treats them horribly because of what they're wearing, but they both think their Paper Thin Disguises are flawless and are getting hated on for being black/Jewish.

Newspaper Comics

  • Bloom County played this for laughs once; if memory serves, Oliver Wendell Jones invented a gadget that temporarily turned white people black, and Cutter John was going to take it to D.C. and use it on the ambassador from South Africa (this was still the time of apartheid, so the ambassador would have been white) but his wheelchair-balloon got blown off course and he was lost at sea.

Theatre

  • In Finian's Rainbow Sharon tells a racist senator she wishes he were black so he would understand what black people have to go through due to people who think like he does. She happens to be standing where a pot of magical wish-granting gold is buried, so... well, you can guess where this is going.

Western Animation

  • An episode of South Park has the boys making Cartman think he's...a ginger. Freckles and hair dye. The episode then turns this on its head--rather than making Cartman rethink his horrible attitude, he actually starts a ginger supremacist movement and nearly kills every non-ginger in the town.
  • Gargoyles villain Demona summons and binds Puck and forces him to grant her various wishes, which he delights in twisting because he dislikes her, and because her wishes consist of "Kill All Humans," a species of which Puck is fond. She also wishes that she would not turn to stone during the day like other gargoyles -- which Puck grants by causing her to turn human during the day instead. And in this case, it's permanent. As usual, Demona learns nothing.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "A Walk On The Flip Side" (a parody of The Twilight Zone) has Montana Max, "rabbit-hater extraordinaire", wake up to find that he's a rabbit himself.
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