Black Theatre in the (Post-) Obama Era

Lisa Thompson talk, Performances of Cultural Trauma: Black Theatre in the (Post-) Obama Era, expresses the power behind art like theatre, art, music, dance, and style. She talks about how politics is basically a form of theatre and with Obama in office it has altered the perception of black culture. Obama can be seen as taking on two different personas, one is black cool, which consist of the easily accessed forms of performance like dance and style, while he is also portrayed as an uncool nerd. Between this continuum, he is would be considered blurred cool permitting him to participate in large range of activities. Obama has been trying to change the perspective of individuals about black culture through the supporting black arts and performances. There are small steps being taken like having the first black artist’s work in the White House. Black theatre is a method that allows people to reestablish their personhood and citizenship of America.

Lisa spoke about micro aggression and the people who do the most harm to color, women, and LGBT community are not from the unconscious perpetrators, but from the well-intentioned people who believe in their own morality and see themselves as decent individuals who will never consciously harm others. Neoliberal racists are the people who do the most damage because they create and maintain a climate that fosters discrimination. It was interesting to hear about the ones who do more damage are the ones who do not conscious harm others because those individuals are careful with their behavior and language, but sometimes there are still levels of micro aggressions that they do not realize. A personal experience she provided was when she bought her first house and shared this exciting news with her neighbors. Her neighbors commented back was “I thought a professor was moving in here.” I am sure the neighbor had a good intention to not offend anyone, but the micro level of discrimination can actually do more harm because individuals are unaware of it. How can we as a society overcome these challenges?

The strength of art is powerful because it is an effective method to convey a message to your audience. The video above is a singer, Mark Stewart that sings a song “Black Men Ski” that expresses racial stereotype through satire. Similar to Mike Daisey, who uses art to inform the public about Apple’s use of poor working conditions to manufacture their products. The use of art in black culture is one method that allows for accessibility into the “elements of blackness.”

How effective do you think art (theatre, music, dance, and more) is in tackling social issues? OR Is it just a small competent in aiding them?


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3 thoughts on “Black Theatre in the (Post-) Obama Era”

  1. I think art, theatre, and dance can definitely tackle social issues but on a small scale. I feel like these types of expression appeal to only a segment of society, like the upper class. I feel like our generation is less inclined to watch and be influenced by theatre compared to a youtube video intending to re-shape social thinking.


  2. Very effective. i think comedians like Key and Peele, or Louis CK, who challenge “nice” behaviors around NOT talking about race are very positive.


  3. If I am coaching soccer, and there is one Black kid on a team of White kids, and someone says “which one is Joe?” and I think to myself “If I say the Black one, am I singling him out for his racial difference? Or just stating the obvious?” Is that a micro AGGRESSION? I thought the term was micro aggression.


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