So remember that play I was telling you about under "Upcoming Projects"? I've got a draft of it, "Simba & Sankofa" here. It was inspired by a series of experiences:
(1) I was having a discussion with a white male student whom I absolutely love at Pepperdine (in undergrad: 2002- 2006) about the absence of a black princess in the proverbial Disney kingdom. His reply? "Well, there's Nala," the lion 'cubbess' from The Lion King. We laughed heartily about this but was he joking? Was I?
(2) I went to Ghana in May of 2012 and an African man greeted me with, "Black woman! Welcome home!" I was so flattered to be included, welcomed and recognized. Despite that, it was hot and hard to get around. The electricity was only mostly reliable. And the water was half reliable. "Coming home" was a challenge.
(3) I went to St. Louis in the fall of 2013 and the person I met there that I liked the most was Ciré Sy, the Senegalese doorman who was generously kind, warm and sweet to me. Like family.
And then, (4) the Black Graduate Student Association and the African Student Organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted a night in which 'we' screened a documentary about "The New Afro Americans" in which the term "African American" was 'unpacked' and who is and who isn't ascribed to that group was discussed. Many of the prejudices, stereotypes and erroneous beliefs Africans have about African Americans (thugs, thieves, uneducated, unenterprising) and African Americans have about Africans (living in trees and/or alongside wild animals, haughty, superior) were highlighted.
(5) Then, my Los Angeles playwright friend Julie Taiwo Oni, of Nigerian descent, told me that she too had written a play, "Bunk," that addressed the same themes. Tonight I am privileged to see the dress rehearsal of her work.
Let me know what you think!
I have Julie Oni and Elizabeth Burton, a person I've never met, to thank for the name of my blog, "Sovereignty and Acquiescence." My Los Angeles playwright friend Julie tagged me in a post on Facebook that led to an essay by Elizabeth Burton that compared Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" with Beyoncé's song repertoire. You can see it here. It attempts to show the format of a well cited and well argued essay on an engaging topic. It accomplishes both of those goals and explores gender roles within a discourse of power.
There's an ongoing discussion of a woman's power when it comes to her role in a marriage. What does she give away? What does she submit? What does she appear to relinquish yet simultaneously retain? I found that these dualities were hardly limited to 'wifery.' The workforce calls for this compromise. Any familial tie. Religion.
Anyhow, I wanted something that would speak to my life in a holistic fashion and I thought that Elizabeth Burton's words did so in highlighting the compromises we have to make for society, for progress and in seeking the ever precarious balance of ownership of the self and engagement in life.
As stated under "Upcoming Projects," I have written a piece in response to the LA Times open call for submissions. Please enjoy and comment. UPDATE: One of the sites mentioned in my piece, La Catedral de Justo, has been reported on in the news via CNN. Here's a photo and a link.
My name is Katrina Spencer. I'm a librarian.