For Whom the Belle Tolls


 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good;and what doth the Lord require of thee,but to do justly, and to love mercy,and to walk humbly with thy God?

Mic 6:88 (KJV)

True liberty can exist only when justice is equally administered to all. 

Lord Mansfield

Belle” The movie was based on a true and riveting story about a young biracial woman (Dido Elizabeth Belle).  In 1762 She was born of a Slave mother and an Anglo father of  pedigree (Admiral Sir John Lindsay). In that time upon the death of her mother her father’s love for his daughter allowed for the child to be raised by his uncle, Lord Mansfield in England. That same Lord Mansfield would bring forth a ruling that many attribute to the beginning of the end of slavery and the image

Slave Trade. Many historians say it was the influence of Dido and his love for her as the driving force that ultimately led to the freedom of many. Belle, the movie takes liberties that elude to this belief.

She was a member of that family and entreated to many of the privileges of its social standing. However, because of the color of her skin, this lighter complexioned  woman of color was snidely buffeted by comments and whispers of how dark she was. She was not permitted to eat with family and other guest that would come into the home. She would have to wait until after the meal and participate in post supper social activities.

This outstanding movie’s real life example of the comprehensive complexities of race, privilege, colorism, and  racism, that existed long ago and a far away place are still in existence today.  These complexities were captured on a number of quotes in the movie. One such quote was when a couple of brothers

came courting Dido and her cousin “the younger Ashford brother adds another layer to Dido’s complicated experience as a black woman: onee night, while he and Dido are sitting away from the crowd on their own, he confesses to being “taken with” her and compliments her beauty in a strange way. Her mother’s blackness, he says, is undoubtedly ugly, but Dido’s “better half” (that is, her white half) won out in her features, which is what makes her so beautiful.” Belle: A Lesson in the Timelessness of Racism and Misogyny Against Black Women


In a recent TED talk from Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave, of which she shared the story of her being mistaken for kitchen help at restaurant attended by herself and congressman Harold Ford.

Hobson acknowledges that talking about race is “like touching the third rail,” but argues that it’s necessary to foster change. She overcame her own fears to help address it and the resulting talk, embedded above, is well worth the watch.

There is a quantifiable difference in opportunity for people of color, Hobson says, and avoiding talking about it is holding back our businesses and our economy. Diversity is essential for creative problem-solving.

“We cannot afford to be color blind,” she says, “we have to be color brave… Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.”

There were many great quotes in this outstanding movie experience. However one in particular stood out from the rest. A fictional line rings a certain measure of gravity to the reality of actual untold conversations between the Lord Mansfield and his biracial great niece whom  he loved. In response to Lord Mansfield’s chastening of Dido “There are rules in place that dictate how we live.” Dido answers back ” You break every rule when it means enough, I am the evidence” 

Kevin Robinson Executive Director of Accord1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: