The Minstrel Show Revisited is difficult…

It is difficult because it complicates our thinking

It is difficult because it is disruptive

It is difficult because it confronts

It is difficult because it makes us race-conscious in a way that is not comfortable or easy

It is difficult because it represents conflict, chaos and potential danger

It is difficult because it hurts and we feel the pain

It is difficult because the issue of race in America will not go away

It is difficult because our responses reveal how ‘tinny’, limited and narrowed by political correctness our conversations about and around race are

It is difficult because it does not falsely uplift and we do not feel good

It is difficult because it provokes

It is difficult because it asks us to be brave and courageous

It is difficult because it asks black people and white people to sit in the same room when race is the issue

It is difficult because race and negative representation is thrust and thrown in our faces

It is difficult because we have to acknowledge the racists legacies of our past

It is difficult because we are asked to stare into the face of the minstrel “black-face” mask and it stares back at us

It is difficult because we are asked to face representations that horrify us but are part of our culture and history

It is difficult because we become aware of how we have internalized racism

It is difficult because our responses are complex/complicated and we want/wish them to be simple reactions, easily categorized

It is difficult because we feel guilt, shame, anger, surprise, complicit, fear, astonishment, remorse, sadness, and are numb all in the same breath

It is difficult because we are taken on an emotional roller-coaster ride

It is difficult because we laugh

It is difficult because we see and hear others laughing

It is difficult because we are bombarded by images and sounds that unnerve and unsettle us

It is difficult because we are asked to acknowledge that what we thought or hoped was finished, dead and gone, is alive and well

It is difficult because we are asked to acknowledge that at this point in time, there is no post-racial America and never was

It is difficult because it seems to ‘re-inscribe’ the language of racism that it purports to want to erase

It is difficult because we are reminded that history is painful, we can hardly bear it and want to rewrite it, or wish it weren’t so, just so we can feel better

It is difficult because we are asked to acknowledge that we see color and race

It is difficult because in spite of what one says, none of us are color-blind

It is difficult because sitting in the darkened theater we are aware of all the unfiltered thoughts regarding race running through ours mind – and maybe others know what we are thinking

It is difficult because it raises questions and provides no answers

It is difficult because we hate every minute of how we feel when we watch it yet watch it anyway

It is difficult because we are sick and tired of the past and wonder why we can’t just “move on” or just “get over it”

It is difficult because in it the past and present collide and often look the same

Photo Credit: Nate Watters, 2014

Share This