Sunday, January 25, 2009
My Week in 15 Ramblings: Black History Month
1. I read back through my last several posts and realized I sound like I should be covering in a closet slowly consuming my weight in xanax, what with all these posts about me being anxious over one thing or another. I'm going to make this my disclaimer that yes, people, I am a confident and competent human being-- otherwise I would be out of work right now-- but anxiety issues make for funnier posts, so I go with it. I exploit anything that makes me even slightly nervous in favor of making you guys giggle. You're welcome!
2. I finished another dance this week. Whoop whoop!
3. R and I finished learning our pas, and it is going to be awesome.
4. I'm really excited about the material we're learning for this year's Black History Month program. We've got some neat, neat stuff going on. I'll give you a For Instance...
5. ...we're doing a piece about Frederick Douglass. We showed a part of the work-in-progess at last year's Black History Retrospective Show-- and I know I wrote about it, and the fact that I can't find that post is driving me up a wall-- and this year we are adding on to it in a big way. We have a young boy joining us (whom I'll call "Young Freddy"), dancing the role of young F. Douglass (interestingly enough, he was also at Tremaine this past fall; in the same class as a handful of my students). He's a sweet kid. I wonder if it's weird for him to be working with all these adults in a professional-company setting? I want to make him feel comfortable around us, on one hand.... but on the other hand I'm trying so hard to not curse or tell inappropriate jokes while he's around that (for once!) I pretty much keep my mouth shut.
6. I wrote a kick-ass paper on Frederick Douglass' autobiography my freshman year (hi, Mrs. Lopata!), after our English 9 class had read some of his work. During the last eight years (Really? Eight years? Oh, my goodness) I've forgotten a lot of it, but this piece reminds me of just how gritty his story is.
7. By the way, there's a weird dichotomy to dancing in a Black History program when you're white: You learn more about African-American history, obviously; but you also feel like the world's biggest A-Hole.
8. Even so for me, because I'm white, protestant, and half-German....which means my people are the bullies of the human race. We're responsible for slavery and the Holocaust (in fact, that's why I rarely admit to being half- German. Sorry, Dad).
9. Anyway, back to Freddy. We're dancing to text with this gorgeous string music in the background. Allow me to share with you the text to the section we learned yesterday:
10. "The whisper that my master was my father, may or may not be true.... the slaveholder, in cases not a few, sustains to his slaves the double relation of master and father.I know of such cases; and it is worthy of remark that such slaves invariably suffer greater hardships, and have more to contend with, than others. They are, in the first place, a constant offence to their mistress. She is ever disposed to find fault with them; they can seldom do any thing to please her; she is never better pleased than when she sees them under the lash, especially when she suspects her husband of showing to his mulatto children favors which he withholds from his black slaves. The master is frequently compelled to sell this class of his slaves, out of deference to the feelings of his white wife; and, cruel as the deed may strike any one to be, for a man to sell his own children to human flesh-mongers, it is often the dictate of humanity for him to do so; for, unless he does this, he must not only whip them himself, but must stand by and see one white son tie up his brother, of but few shades darker complexion than himself, and ply the gory lash to his naked back."
11. Isn't that crazily effed up? I'm dancing in the role of the slave mistress, too; R slams Young Freddy to the floor right before I do this loving and tender bit with him. I'm starting to feel really blessed that I have the sort of mind that is endlessly fascinated by sick, twisted stuff. If I didn't, I'd be having nightmares from here to kingdom come.
12. Instead, I'm disturbed....but also intrigued. I want to learn more. And I'm going to, throughout this process.
13. And you can bet I'm going to keep you folks updated on it. We'll all learn, think, and evolve during this next month of rehearsals and performances. It'll sure be a nice change of pace from laughing about my anxiety.
14. Annnnnnd I'm out. Guess what today is?
15. P.S. I briefly considered sending this post to my boss and saying "Hey, check it out, I wrote about the Frederick Douglass piece"...but then I realized she would probably say "Wow, you're a total degenerate" and fire me; which would make me sad. Although I've been in her company for over a year now (and yes, she has seen this blog), so by now she's probably figured out 'Oh, hey, Butterfly is a whacko!" Hmmm. Conundrum.