Anansi to Brer Rabbit: Art and Identity by Marie McKinney

Ever wish you didn’t have to explain your identity so much? As artists of color, whether African, Asian, Latin, European…there is so much knowledge that gives our cultures definition. (If we are considering ourselves as white or black, does this negate the color that we are?(Ethiopian, French, or Chinese?)) Knowledge which, if we are blessed, we find as adults. It’s not mainstream knowledge, taught in schools.

To seek out every bit of history and culture would be a lifetime feat! In teams and on blogs we can discover much with each other. Please write your comments! How often have you done a piece and had to spend several pages explaining the information you are basing you art on? If they say a character is like Mr. ROGERS, you know exactly what they are talking about. How many historical references do we have that are as accessible to everyone as George Washington and Clare Barton? Let’s start a movement to let everyone know our “mainstream” culture and history?

If Anansi were known by every child, words like, Jali or the french renamed them griot, Kora, Taino, Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz,Alexander Dumas, Alexander Puskin….

If every child had the knowledge that the book: The 3 Musketeers was written by an “Afro-cousin” in France, would their “play” be different? Would they swash-buckle in the backyard?

Not to mention the Afro-Natives, so called Pirates of the Caribbean (some of my distance relatives, that’s a long story) who searched the wreckages of ships of the coasts of Key West and the Bahamas. Knowledge of The Dark lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, could change the types of roles we are cast in.

Sonnet 127 begins: “In the old age black was not counted fair, or if it were it bore not beauty’s name.” The mixed marriage of Robert Browning (Afro-English) and Emily Bronte(European), which inspired the words: “How do I love thee, let me count the ways”

Let’s add the Black Madonna, which shows up all over Europe in statue form. Black Theater, African American Arts have a long, illustrious history in the U.S and the world. Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Tap dance, Horton, Hip Hop, Stepping, are distinctly Black American inventions of the last century, not to mention all the cultural inventions created by African and Native American collaboration before Columbus and the Colonists arrived in the Americas, like the sacred ball playing courts in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and the parade culture and pageantry of the Bahamas, Trinidad and Brazil; the Afro-Indian Settlements in the Amazon, which migrated there with peoples from Peru and Brazil. National Black Theatre Festival

There is so much information…and Yes there was a black queen of England, Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of George III during the American Revolution….Here are more references to google..See how many you already know: Write your responses to this blog!!! What are your questions? What are your discoveries? Suggested Topics for further discovery and research: Jali (in fr. griot): African Oral Historian, Shakespeare and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, Sonnet 127 and other black poems by Shakespeare, Pageantry in Brazil, Trinidad, Bahamas,New Orleans, carnivale, Bahia, stoicism in African religion, Islam vs Muslim, Uncle Remus, Brer Rabbit, Native American and African storytelling, Orisha, Pantheon, Mythology, Haiti: vodun and spiritual mounting and trance in Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil, Spiritualism in the Caribbean, The Holy Ghost in Apostolic and Pentecostal Churches in the Northern and Southern parts of US, blues as it relates to African and Native cultures, Cherokee stomp dances and Iroquois Smoke dances and how the cultures are related, Bill T Jones, Lori Carlos, Cultural Odyessy and Rhodessa Jones contemporary dance and theatre, Carl Hancock Rux performance poetry, Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe, African Dance and song and Forces of Nature, Jazz Cafes in Harlem and University of the Streets 7th St and A, Open Mike Nights, Sis. Omelika Kuumba, Co-founder, Director GIWAYEN MATA, Inc. Celebrating 15 Years of Drumming and Dancing While Daring to Do It Differently, 404-766-4001 Improv and sketch Comedy Upright Citizens Brigade, Gotham City, Stand Up Comedy, The Globe Theatre-Playwrights of the Middle Passage and early America,Creole and Patois-varied combination of African syntax and European lexicon, or words. Junkanoo in the Bahamas…….more to come. Let us know what your research found..try the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The National Museum of the American Indian, Research Center at Foxwoods(CT), Harlem Churches, Temples and Mosques, Symphony Space’s World Music Institute, Lotus Dance School…

Send us an account of your research to post on this blog….