After three years of PhD coursework I realize what I’ve always known: that I, too, can bind the power of language to create words that define experience. Theatre is my place. My home. There is nothing I’ve participated in, learned, developed or experienced that I could personally identify with more, but on occasion I have reason to feel out of sorts there. Perhaps the hullabaloo about Hamilton being cost-prohibitive reminded me that there are still problems we need to air out in the study and production of theatre.

A long time ago I came up with this idea, that people of color, particularly African Americans, in the US were missing out on a way to discuss their discontent with American life after the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Freedom with heavily legislated socioeconomic precarity was not an equal right. Afrocentric scholar Mwalimu Baruti says of western cultural imperialism: “Those individuals or groups who dare to hold on to their original sanity become universally depicted as the truly insane” (28). I challenge the media’s interjection into the “conversation” about civil unrest after black men, women, and children are killed by uniformed police officers when it is described as a part of the mentality of black people to destroy. Destruction is not a natural state of people who have been granted social equity. Unfortunately for America, Reconstruction was revoked only a few years after it got started and so there is an unfinished project. As I seek to shape my part of the conversation on America and Race from here I challenge you to find more selective ways of framing your point of view while keeping history in mind. .

The term I use to describe the aggravation of living [and dying while black] in “Western Civilization” is postcolonial angst. It stems from living in the liminal space that many throughout the African diaspora—as well as some other non-whites, women, and other socially marginalized groups—occupy in order to negotiate the borders between the archive of the West and their own experience.

Feel free to add it to your lexicon. Reader, I hope that you can forgive the limits of the English language in my discussion of modes of thinking that contain non-linear thought patterns and imagery. Though I often critique the western tradition of academic evaluation and discourse I do so with a great deal of non-Western concepts.

That being said, I will not allow the limits of theory as it has “evolved” in Western Civilization to control my limits of experience with my artform.

I impress upon my audience that civilization (the act) is a problem in academia, endemic to this particular “home.” While denying the cultural chauvinism of the academy from inside, my theoretically leanings best fit in the realms of Subjectivism, Revisionism, Deconstructionist, and Postcolonial theory among others.spk

These terms suggest that the “real” or “original” research has already been created and I challenge the presumption; believing instead that what has been labelled “primitive” is complex, emotive, and experiential and needs no “civilizing” by restructuring it in the image of “scientific” reason and, by proxy, the written word. The work I do crossing borders is at once a reflection of my being a product of the academic institutions which created the world in their image without actually planning on allowing me membership [superficially or otherwise, See Ebony and Ivy by Craig Steven Wilder].

 

The reason that I persevere is because I can use these tools of language and experience to reshape the word/world as I see it. Besides, I’ve made it this far because they never saw me coming.

 

Baruti, Mwalimu K. Bomani. Eureason: An Afrikan Centered Critique of Eurocentric Social Science. Kearney: Morris Publishing, 2006. Print.