NOTES FROM THE EDITOR The Scottsboro Boys, Halloween Black Face, Deeper Than Twitter & Lego

There have been lots of things going on in the world this week, that to talk about it all would probably bore you to tears and give me a headache. So here are just a few things that I feel to opinionate on…

The Scottsboro Boys @ The Young Vic

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After speaking to Adebayo Bolaji one of the stars in The Scottsboro Boys, I was looking forward to seeing this particular story brought to life.

In a nutshell, The Scottsboro Boys is based on true accounts back in 1931 America where a group of  nine African American boys boarded a train in Scottsboro, Alabama, in search of a new life. Yet never reached their intended destinations because they were accused of raping two white women. ‘By the end of their journey, their lives – and those of every American – would be changed forever.’

At first sitting in the packed out auditorium waiting for the play to start I did ponder why I was one of a sprinkling of AfriCarib faces, where were the rest of us? Did we not know about it, maybe we’re coming on other days, or was this case for the argument that we don’t do theatre/don’t think the theatre does us? Anyway…

The play began and I must admit I didn’t trust it. After the first few brilliantly sung, songs, I was a tad disgruntled. How can such a serious story be told with song and jokes? Surrounded by faces that in the majority weren’t like mine I was conflicted and did that lemme see if they laugh at the wrong thing, thing that we do.

But Bolaji was right, Scottsboro Boys is magical. It’s magical because it’s amazing that such a sorrowful story can be told with comedy, song and uncomfortable irony in such a way that whilst you’re toe tapping and chuckling one minute, almost immediately a scene change will have you welling up at the stark and harsh injustice these young men faced.

With a mixture of the original Broadway cast and fresh UK talent with only one white actor (Julian Glover who played ‘The Interlocutor’) the cast effortlessly rotated their way through their characters.

I can comfortably say now, that the two characters which initially agitated me the most were played by Colman Domingo (Mr Bones) & Forrest McClendon (Mr Tambo) Domingo and Forrest who are both from the original American Broadway cast. It was the Mr Bones & Mr Tambo characters who provided most of the slapstick comedy scenes that didn’t sit well with me at first, but as the play unfolded, and the understanding of why the show was structured in this particular way is revealed, the realization that Mr Bones & Mr Tambo are such important characters struck home in such a way that it was the expression on their faces at the very end which encouraged my tears as the lights went up and the cast took their bows.

Kander & Ebb, Susan Stroman, David Thompson, the US and UK cast have done an amazing job.

Read The British Blacklist interview with Adebayo Bolaji: www.thebritishblacklist.com/british-blacklist-speaks-adebayo-bolaji-upcoming-role-scotsboro-boys/

The Scottsboro Boys runs from 18 Oct – 21 Dec 2013 Book Your Tickets: www.youngvic.org/whats-on/the-scottsboro-boys

 

Blacking Up and General Racism is The 2013 Must Have Halloween Outfit

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I could try and find some far fetched conspiracy theory to tie in the coincidence that the last day of Black History Month happens to be Halloween, but even I…anyway. As one holiday ends another begins. Halloween, what a happy yet confusing time for all. Where usually the world fears all that is evil and undead, Halloween is the one time a year where Witches, Goblins, Zombies and all of the underworld are celebrated, causing the Religious to drop to their knees in prayer, and uptight parents (myself included) to lock their doors, and their children (my child included) away from the gangs of badly made up kids playing Knock Down Ginger…ahem…I mean Trick or Treating / Begging for sweets bought by your hard earned wages. Pause for the hypocrisy that is allowing your kids to knock on the doors of strangers hoarding enticing sweets in their homes…

Won’t do the whole history of All Hallows Eve, but as we know Halloween is enjoyed around the world, and very notably in America where it seems everyone including big name celebrities go to painstaking lengths to create THE best Halloween outfit, which is fun for all (including myself) to look at – noting not every costume sends you hiding behind your couch clutching your Holy Book. Diddy went as Prince, Drake went as Kanye, Miley went as Lil Kim etc. etc. etc.

But linking back to the Scottsboro Nine,  four of the boys, Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams and Roy Wright were released from prison early – collectively the Nine boys were imprisoned spanning 20 years – but the four who were released early ended up in a Vaudeville Act  in other words a Minstrel Show in other words a show where White people would mock Black people by blacking up their faces and on occasion Black people blacking up themselves to… you get the picture. So it is so very ironic that in a land where an injustice like the Scottsboro Nine case and many, many more occurred,  Halloween 2013 has seen a surging trend in people blacking up their costumes and feeling very free to have racist outbursts all in the ‘evil’ spirit of harmless fun.

You had actress Julianne Hough blacking up to honour her favourite African American TV character, then there was an African themed A-list fashion party where designer Alessandro Dellacqua decided to go full black face whilst partying with Dolce & Gabbana and the like, not forgetting the guy who thought dressing up as murdered African American teenager Trayvon Martin would be cool, and teacher David Spondike felt the need to tweet racist sentiments about African American trick or treaters, some guy hung an effigy of a lynched African American up on his lawn, and then there were the scary Shining-esque blonde girls who blacked up and confidently told the world that they were going as n****s…

And as for this fool…

idiot

#sigh #nowords #seethisiswhyidontlikehalloween #reallyblackwomanreally?

Lisa Bent Takes Gangs, Babyfathers and Strong Black Women Deeper than Twitter 

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A TV presenter and social commentator Lisa Bent founded her blog Deeper than Twitter in 2009 to provide different perspectives to current issues and trends by intertwining psychology knowledge and my thoughts. In her words she decided to write these 3 open letters to highlight, raise awareness and continued discussions.  The black experience is a collective one and its time for us to awaken our dormant true selves.

Lisa recently penned 3 open letters to kick start a much needed conversation…

Open Letter to Gang Members

Being in a gang is the biggest illusion of being in a family. Let me remind you that a family, a positive functioning family involves people who love you and look out for you and nurture you, in the promotion of you becoming your best. Whether your mum and dad are together or you are from a single parent family, you have one or two people to answer to. In a gang there may be one or more gang leaders; the structure within this “family” is very different and the repercussions are more harmful than in your immediate family. Where do you fit in within this big structure? What will you be willing to do to avoid embarrassment and to get the external validation and love you seek? The whole construct is one of fight or flight, how do you cope in this intense surroundings? How do you form healthy relationships? How do you live with blood on your hands? Do you sleep? I predict there are many young people in gangs who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder  and paranoia due to their lifestyle. The government estimates there are 250 gangs in greater London of which there are 32 boroughs. As a result how many different gangs live at the end of your road? You have created your own prisons, physically and mentally, for what? …Click Here to Read Full Open Letter To Gang Members

Open Letter to Babyfathers

What it means to be a man, husband and father needs to be de-constructed and re-evaluated. Connection and the family structure pre-slavery needs to be looked at, remembered and re-established. Everyone is capable of being in and formulating loving and lasting relationships, self-reflection is the key and autonomy. You can only truly be autonomous when you are aware of the unconscious. The “young buck” (babyfather) way of being serves as a hindrance to all involved in this present day and our future?

It has been reported that some Afro-Caribbean men are likely to seek counselling in their 40’s to discuss problems and concerns relating to their relationships with their children, that many women have identified and sought help for in their mid-twenties; parallel problems on different time scales. I believe it’s time to re-define what it means to be a man and father by first considering how the past has navigated you. Shake of the shackles and psychological stereotypes in order to change your behaviour and be who you really are…Click Here to Read Full Open Letter to Babyfathers

Open letter to Strong Black Women

I/you/we are people, women, black women who are entitled to love, to be respected and to be appreciated just like everyone else. If knowing our worth and refusing to put up with less than, prompts someone to label us as “difficult” then they need to find someone on the same level as their less than selves. We are not here to be anyone’s punching bag or front to mask the insecurities and self-issues of others.

Crying, seeking and asking for help, resting and saying no, does not mean you are weak, it means you are listening to your body and giving it self-love and self-care to be a healthy woman and person. The time to stop carrying everyone’s rubbish stops today, because the strong black woman is a myth and it’s time to lay her to rest. Discard those bags and pick up only what is yours and work through it bit by bit, to be the best you…Click Here to Read Full Open Letter to Strong Black Women

 

I end with something that I’m unashamedly looking forward to…

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