The W Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in about an Hour, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Tuesday 09 August 2011
In 2005, the San Franciscan comedian W Kamau Bell joked that Barack Obama's name was "too black" to see him elected president. Despite this apparent lack of foresight, Bell's gentle yet challenging exploration of race and racism already looks set to be one of the most insightful Fringe shows this year.
Bell's choice of "obvious ethnics" to replace "people of colour" shows just how difficult it is to discuss race. For the most part, however, the all-white audience , as far as I can see, are at ease with Bell as he explains, for example, the levels of racism from one to five: "If I said 'there's a lot of Asian people in here", that's a one... 'and I am going to kill them', that's a five."
Bell uses both the UK and US census for some knockabout stuff. He highlights that the term Arab is classified as white in the 2000 US census – and from this he maintains that "race isn't real".
It's a somewhat flimsy, if pivotal, assertion and it conflicts with his idea that white people should adopt and adapt James Brown's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud".
His reasoning behind it, however, is not so flimsy and is crucial – it's so that protestations of ethnic pride are taken away from extremists.
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