Sara Myers ( or Sar’z Myers) has petitioned to ban Exhibit-B from The Barbican because, she says, it is “an exercise in white racial privilege”. At time of writing Myers has 15,000 press-to-send-protestors: much as I predicted. Akala, the poet and artist, agrees with Myers. But take a look at other comparable “exercises in white privilege” – her words – and the “masturbation of white guilt” – his words. (I provide links).
Roots was produced by Stan Marguiles. Walter Mirisch produced In The Heat of The Night. Brad Pitt co-produced 12 years a Slave. Len Blavatnik was executive producer of The Butler. Quentin Tarrantino directed Django Unchained. Scott Rudin produced The Book of Mormon.
I offer two reasons why Myers and the 15,000 petitioners (and counting) are wrong headed in wanting to ban Exhibit B. Here’s the first. The story of slavery is part of the collective consciousness of humanity like the story of space travel or the downfall of communism or the Jewish holocaust? It must be told by all and remembered by all. That’s the first reason Exhibit-B must not be banned. If it’s banned on the basis the story is transmitted through a “white” person or that “white” people will see it then Akala and Sar’z must do the same for any and all slave narrative, produced, written, directed, or shown by any “white ” person.
Here’s the second reason Exhibit-B should not be banned by them: In the mere handful of examples above black actors of great standing and integrity are front and centre: Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Forest Whittaker, Sydney Poitier, Cuba Gooding Junior, Mariah Carey. Their own families suffered the stories they portray.
Hanged, shot, raped, burned, buried alive, made servile and humiliated: It is exactly the same acting as by The great black South Africans in Brett Bailey’s Exhibit-B. Can you not see them. And yes “white” people and black watch the drama of slavery unfold.It’s a story every part of every generation should retell. What wisdom and strength is in these actors to portray these stories so incredibly well? (Jeez if I could only get past the version of anger broadcast by Myers and Akala I could get them to see the facts.)
This is my second reason the exhibition should not be banned. In Myers world and Akala’s these great black men and women – the actors – are not to be heard. It’s what incenses me most about the campaign. It makes a definite choice to ignore the black South Africans as if they are dumb slaves to a pathetic display of radical exhibitionism. To dismiss the articulate skilled and emotional voices of the South African actors is an insult but to call to ban Exhibit B is arrogance of despotic proportions and that affects me – Damn it.