Black Girl Problems, Race, Social Media, Theatre, Uncategorized

Skin. Part 3

Recently a local theater whitewashed the role of a black slave in Arthur Miller’s, “The Crucible.”   There was protest from myself and other members in the community.  The local newspaper thought it was an important discussion to begin and asked for interviews, and wrote up an article.  On the online article there is a comment section. I knew better than to comment, I had said my peace in the article – and honestly thought that was the end of it for me.  I started receiving odd friend requests, messages with threats and derogatory insults – I took all personal pictures off social media so strangers wouldn’t recognize me and stop me in public (anymore than what had already transpired.)  I do not regret speaking up.  Several members of the black community and beyond also reached out to me to offer support and encouragement.  The most touching message I received was a mother who had black children – she wanted to speak up but couldn’t because she feared her children would face repercussions from their classmates.  This is why I spoke up.   The comment section filled up with ignorance and hate – all but one person were white.  I wish they understood that the fact that they feel free and safe to speak up was a part of their privilege, that’s what it’s like to feel apart of group and to have the popular opinion – but for me, and for several black Americans, speaking up often means putting a target on your back.  There were over 200 comments on the page, but out of all of them I believe this one was the most important –   (Throughout the comments people accused me of being this man – which was frustrating to hear.  I had made a post on my personal Facebook and they hated me for it.  I was interviewed for the paper and they hated me for it.  So I didn’t speak up in the comments, and they still hated me for it.  I had to accept that it had nothing to do with what I was or wasn’t saying. )

 

“White People have systematically been in power since the birth of our nation. Black people have been systematically oppressed in our country since it’s birth. They (blacks) have a history of being enslaved, murdered, solely because of the color of their skin and are still living through the effects of oppressive and racist institutions such as slavery, Jim Crow and segregation (which there are still ppl alive today who lived while Jim Crow and segregation were law , this isn’t some far distant past) White People have never had to endure a disadvantage based solely on their skin color in this country. White people benefit from systems of oppression and their effects. So when the musical Hamilton is performed as it was written and intended by the playwright they aren’t enforcing an established system of oppression by portraying a fictional history , they aren’t offending an already oppressed people. An 80 yr old white woman faking a Jamaican accent is a gross representation of a young black slave woman and is enforcing an established system of oppression on a people who do not benefit from it from someone who does. When we do not see black people being accurately depicted in the arts (as humans with feelings, emotions, struggles, triumphs and relationships etc) we start to dehumanize them because we cannot empathize with them. This is dangerous and has been proven dangerous to black people because then they are associated with negative stereotypes which then make it easier to excuse treating them inhumanely (as has been demonstrated throughout history.) This is what happens when we misrepresent black people in the arts, and even though the intent here wasn’t to harm, it did cause harm. It’s not blame, it’s accountability for something that happened. Nobody is saying the people responsible are malicious or racist even the people in the interview. But to dismiss this issue as “small stuff” is belittling a real issue that affect and has affected black Americans for centuries.”      – Pete Rest

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