A PROTEST, A CELEBRATION, A MIXED MESSAGE (MONOLOGUE)
Can you write about this?
Do you think I’m black enough?
Do you think I'm white enough?
Viewer a message to you.
Black bodies exist in rural spaces too.
Listen in when I say (as someone with skin in the game), that there is no right way to be black, no fact of blackness.
So what unites our black bodies in community? What divides them?
Here is Leeds West Indian Carnival. It is the oldest Caribbean carnival in Britain. People who live in the city centre must travel a mile outside to Chapeltown where the Carnival takes place. I have to travel from the countryside. 24 miles. Chapeltown has a substantial black afro- Caribbean population. Sometimes I feel isolated.
Black and white perform differently at the carnival
Black people mostly perform and white people mostly spectate.
White watches politely and doesn't transgress boundaries. Comfortable. Only small children throw their feet over the railings. It's 1980 and this is where the power lies. The photographer is always the invisible one, but somehow has the most to say.
Black must transgress boundaries to see and be seen. These black men have power.
The authority has been challenged.
Look, the policeman he points.
Men look at men look at women look back at men
And these black men are vulnerable to our gaze too. Fuck the shelter. Isn't their power just temporary? We are the ones who consume their image. We are on the high street after all. Where are the women? Why aren't they up there too?
How to protest
1.Create a clear message
3.Occupy a significant space
4.Engender fear through the sudden movement of a large mass of people, for example a march
How to celebrate carnival
1.Create a costume with a clear identity or message
3.Occupy a space significant to the community
4.Create a spectacle through the movement of a large mass of people, for example a parade.
But viewer How can black bodies in rural spaces protest? How can mixed race bodies in rural spaces protest? Must we be the photographer with the camera? Must we climb on a shelter to be visible?
Carnival in Britain is powerful yes, but it's also absorbed by the culture it resists, it creates a spectacle for a largely white community.Viewer you wanted a neat narrative, the good guys and bad guys and you wanted a black face on a white wall as a reparation. I've neither a black face or a white wall. And Leeds West Indian Carnival is not as black and white as I've made it out to be.
I am the messy mixed message that no museum wants. It prefers a black portrait over an unclear face. How to protest: 1. create a clear message.And my skin and my body just gets in the way because at some point the good guys and the bad guys weren’t so separate.
Must we be the photographer with the camera? Must we climb on a shelter to be visible?
My protest is simply to show you. Mixed race bodies exist here too. We are not to be used as stand ins or acceptably palatably relatably black for those blacker than us. We can protest. We can celebrate too.
Do you think do you think do you think. What do you think? Do you think I am black enough? Do you think I am white enough? I think...
I am fearsome, I am joyful, I am a Yorkshirewoman, I am sure I am a mixed message. See me here.