Tonya Pinkins: I’m every black woman

Hilarious: It seems that the actress Tonya Pinkins dropped out of a New York production of the classic Mother Courage because, as she puts it, her “perspective as a Black woman was dismissed in favor of portraying the Black woman, through the filter of the White gaze”. The production, which has a white director, had been reset to the Congo in contemporary times. I don’t know much about the production, or about the Congo for that matter. But from an Asian perspective, I find it funny that Pinkins thinks that because she’s female and black, she has special insight into the feelings of a Congolese woman trapped in a brutal war. Is there some Black gene that makes all black women worldwide think and feel the same way? I wonder if the fictional woman would even think of herself as “black” given that virtually the entire population of her country is the same; surely she would find her identity elsewhere.

Pinkins also seems to have objected to the director’s concept of the character as “delusional”, though he makes a good case for that in his own comments, and her rather rambling text lists other complaints. But her comments about her Blackness suggest an unhealthy obsession that’s so sadly American. Let’s see if she comes up with her own African Mother Courage to prove her point (my prediction: she won’t). In any case, if that’s what her Mother Courage boils down to, it might be best that she left.



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