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Performing Against Hipster Racism.

24 Feb

I only came across this performance today, and I thought it’s too good not to share: this is Kai Davis’ and Safiya Washington’s take on Hipster Racism, presented at the semi-finals of the 2012 Brave New Voices.  To be clear: it is a performance, not a nuanced analysis of racism and the role it plays in gentrification, for example, and it does not have to be; it is still so spot-on in many ways... <3… You can find more “spoken word poems” by Davis and Washington here on Women and Media, for example.

Awesome Ishema Kane Is Awesome.

23 Jan

Ishema Kane, a nine-year-old Black german girl from Frankfurt, has written a letter to the editors of the german weekly newspaper ZEIT and its recent “defense” of the continued use of racist language in children’s books (and everywhere else, for that matter). Ishema clarifies that neither she nor any other Black person is an N*, and that it certainly is not up to ZEIT to define what racism is according to their personal preferences. So: hats off to Ishema, well done! An English transcript of the letter is below the fold.

[FYI: The word N* is used as an illustration of ZEIT‘s racism in Ishema’s letter of protest]


(c) Ishema Kane.

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Blackface, Round Five.

19 Oct

“As it turns out, blackface has been and continues to be a widespread practice on the German stage. German actors of African descent are routinely passed over for roles explicitly designated for them in some of the largest theatres in the country. This is weakly defended as either a director’s prerogative or a matter of “artistic choice” – and yet, when questioned, no one could offer me an equivalent example of a white German actor having lost a role to a black actor in whiteface.

Clybourne Park.

Now, normally I don’t meddle in the cultural politics of other countries, but when my work and the work of my colleagues – other playwrights – is misrepresented, I do. When we write plays, among other things, we are creating employment for working actors, and often we intend to employ a specific diverse body. Whatever rationale the German theatre establishment might offer for their brazenly discriminatory practice is of no interest to me. For, as little power as we playwrights have, we always retain one small power and that is the power to say no. To say, no thank you, I’d rather not have my work performed in Germany, today, under those conditions.

Lara-Sophie Milagro and her colleague Gyavira Lasana have created an online petition (included below) condemning the ongoing practice of blackface in German theatres and have asked me to ask you, fellow playwrights, to add your name to their petition. I urge you to do so.

But I would go one step further – I would advise you to boycott productions of your own work by German theatres that continue this asinine tradition (The Deutsches Theatre and the Schlosspark are only two examples). A zero-tolerance position is the only position to take, in my opinion, and if we are united then perhaps a few German theatres may take notice and, hopefully, in time, a better course of action.”

Bruce Norris, the Pulitzer prize winning author of “Clybourne Park.” Read the whole article (in german) here (however, cf. Franca’s corrections to the article in the comment section below), and sign the petition against Blackfacing here.

There have been multiple discussions regarding Blackface on this blog if you’d like to have a look, particularly on Berlin’s Schlosspark Theater’s staging of “I’m Not Rappaport:”

  1. “You Know It’s A Bad Idea When It’s Blackface”
  2. “Reasonable Racism”
  3. “Fighting Windmills”
  4. “Blackface, Round 4”
  5. “For Never Was A Story Of More Woe…”

On The Off Chance…

16 Oct

…anyone hasn’t seen this yet (and, you know, given present debates), I thought I’d share this. Despite the fact that I personally couldn’t care less about being included in a  “german” collective, I care about the related systematic racism in germany, and about the racist experiences people have every day that some people degrade as mere “subjectivity” which shouldn’t infuse political positions… I beg to differ. “Blonde-wigging is like Blackfacing” comment in 3…2…1… ;)

[TW: racism (-parody)]

A Gladiator Of Color In A Suit: On “Scandal”.

21 May

“I’m a gladiator in a suit” is a sucky line.


When I first heard it, I thought: “I can’t possibly watch this show. This is like the worst episodes of Grey’s Anatomy combined [yes, another guilty pleasure – sadly, it has lost a lot of the “dark and twisty” appeal it once had…], where some of the pretentious, pseudo-quirky and yet, extremely tacky punch lines make your teeth hurt…” (yes, I am mean like that). However, I am now officially obsessed (…obsessed!) with Shonda Rhimes’ ABC show “Scandal”.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, “Scandal” is a drama revolving around the peculiar law firm of Olivia Pope in Washington, D.C. Pope and her associates are no “ordinary” lawyers, however, because they have specialized in “fixing things”. They “fix” the problems of their clients, which turns out to be a bit of a mixture of very ordinary legal defense tactics, public relations and crisis management, and simply political lobbying work.

Pope, a former student of Cyrus, the present chief of staff of the U.S. president Fitz Grant, had successfully worked on the latter’s campaign to get him elected, and had a job in the White House, before, presumably, her affair with Grant which developed on the campaign trail, made her quit. Obviously, lots of romantic and dramatic entanglements ensue, Shonda Rhimes interweaves flashbacks and uncertainties about people’s characters in this first season of seven episodes, and it’s a fast paced show you have to pay attention to. Also, Rhimes’ “thing” seems to be to have people talk really fast – something I quite enjoy, but which (as it did and does in Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, too…) can still be a bit of a drag, no matter how fast-paced, and sometimes amounts to rather tacky monologues that lack credibility and honesty, in my view.

So, why do I still like “Scandal”?

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