God's Step Children(1938)
Naomi, a light-skinned Black child, is abandoned by her mother and raised by the virtuous Mrs. Saunders (Alice B. Russell, Micheaux's wife and collaborator). When the girl's fixation with whiteness turns her against her own race, she is sent to a convent. Hopelessly in love with her adoptive brother, Jimmie, Naomi consents to marry his friend, but is repulsed by his darker skin and unrefined ways. The narrative comes full circle as Naomi leaves her own newborn and makes a tragic attempt to pass in white society. When the film premiered at Harlem's RKO Regent Theatre it was met with a storm of controversy; the National Negro Congress and other groups protested its harsh characterization of African Americans. The film was withdrawn and several scenes were consequently deleted. Produced with limited resources, God's Step Children offers a testament to Micheaux's extraordinary dedication to both his craft and the concerns of a historically marginalized community.
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