Thursday, September 16, 2004

Where are the men of color on campus?

OK, so the Mae thing is kicking off. First hurdle was getting the part. Next hurdle was breaking to my dad that I’m playing a whore onstage. Next hurdle was convincing the author that a white woman can play the part.
This woman – the author (I won’t link to her because she may track back to this) – wrote it for herself; she wrote it with the idea that only a black woman would play the part; she says that anyone else would make it into something like a blackface minstrel show. I can dig that.
But what would she say to the people who said black people shouldn’t do Shakespeare? Or an Arab playing Othello? I don’t know.
I talked about this in an academic setting – actually in a black studies class. You could almost feel the seething resentment from other students. It moved to a talk about black culture, about the politics of diversity. I asked how come all of the black male students I’ve ever met on campus are either: 1) athletes 2) foreign, or 3) gay?
You could have heard a pin drop.
I don’t think anyone in the class had ever considered the idea that the culture of criminal behavior so prevalent today is any danger.
KB asked me “how many black men have you known growing up?” knowing I come from a small town in . I didn’t get into it with her – but my answer (“maybe six”) surprised her – I don’t think she thought there were six black families in SedgwickCounty outside of Wichita. I told her maybe she didn’t know as much about my culture as I knew about hers. (She grew up in St. Louis and lived in KC since she was in elementary school. She comes from a pretty middle-class neighborhood.)
I don’t mean that I don’t like black people or culture. I’m not going to get into that. There’s a lot I like and a lot I don’t. I’m not much for hip-hop since I like music to be something I can hum. “The day the music died was when they buried the melody,” says “Maggie” and I love that.
Me’shelle Ndegocello (help me with that, spell checker!) talks about the ‘pimp and thug’ mindset in music.
I read something once that a black man wrote – I think it was Stanley Crouch and I’ll look for the link: “Why is it OK for young black people to accept the idea that the more crude, inarticulate and criminal a person is, the more ‘real’ he or she is as a black person?” I can’t even ask that question in a Black Literature class. Hell, I can’t even talk about the bisexuality of the some of biggest names in black literature.
I don’t always agree with Stanley Crouch but he’s right about some things, especially that America is getting more and more balkanized.
Men, women, black men, Hispanic women, gays, Reeps, Dems & Greens, artists, engineers. This globalization thing was supposed to bring us together and we’re flying apart as fast as we can spin.

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