Performing While Black
For over a year Andre Zachery and I had an email correspondence about black male identity in performance. At the same time, Jeremy M. Barker and I had been having a parallel discussion. Both Jeremy and I had written about the structural forces “invisibilizing” black male artists in performance and the persistent, intrinsic “soft racism” of the often unacknowledged implicit biases of white privilege in the non-profit arts ecosystem.
In February 2014 Jaamil Olawale Kosoko curated the Black Male Revisited platform at Danspace Project and Andre, Jaamil, Jeremy and myself started thinking about convening a conversation. Finally, on March 4, 2014 the four of us got together with Germaul Barnes, Whitney Hunter and Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste in the conference room at New York Live Arts to talk about the issues of Black Male Identity in Performance. What ensued was a freewheeling, candid, insightful and often quite funny discussion that lasted over two hours and still only barely began to scratch the surface.
It took awhile (and many aborted attempts) but, prompted by the upcoming “Perspectives on Black Male Revisited” event on September 3, 2014 as part of the “Sorry I Missed Your Show” series at Gibney Dance, I finally edited the conversation down to about an hour and ten minutes, you can watch that video here. If you have time to watch the whole thing, please do.
PS: This conversation was meant to be the beginning of an ongoing project to support discourse and cultural criticism by and about artists of color, and despite being rebuffed by funders so far, perhaps it will be, now that Culturebot Arts & Media, Inc. (finally!) got our 501(c)3 approval from the IRS!