The Black homosexual is hard pressed to gain audience among his heterosexual brothers; even if he is more talented, he is inhibited by his silence or his admissions. This is what the race has depended on in being able to erase homosexuality from our recorded history. The “chosen” history. But the sacred constructions of silence are futile exercises in denial. We will not go away with our issues of sexuality. We are coming home.Essex Hemphill, Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry
Disrupt the panel
They have become a staple of modern British television. For comedians they can be the route from the pub function room circuit to the Wembley Arena mega (pay day) gig. They easily scale up from radio where the risk of a dud format, or weak performance, is more easily tolerated. Like so much else in British entertainment they are often an exercise in nostalgia. They represent a claim for continuity between today and the wits and raconteurs of the British late imperial period, when even a ‘good sense of humour’ was part of the colonial enterprise. Like so much else in British entertainment they are often fake.
Comedians and writers spend days in rehearsal, and the questions are often chosen to set up a particular story that will also turn up in the comedians set, shortly after. The task is to look spontaneous, weave your performance into that of your colleagues, appear effortlessly witty, in your off-the-cuff remarks. Like in so many other arena, ‘effortless’ takes work.
I hope that this ‘revelation’ hasn’t come as a disappointment to you. The conveyor belt from stand-up to panel show, to daytime quizmaster, is not the display of multi-talent, but the same gift – though sometimes your allowed to read from cards.
The same practice of subterfuge has grown de rigeur for panels that are not being broadcast. Panellists get into the habit of feigning surprise at a cleverly worded question, furrowing their brow in concentration, and subsequent declaration of ‘Eureka!’, on the Pride panel at the local authority staff event, all for fear of being seen as someone who has done their homework and prepared responses to the questions sent to them two weeks prior.
We’re doing different
In small ways and large, we can do different than society tells us – especially when society fails us with a depressing regularity. Applying a radical imagination to our situation means being willing to change what may appear to be small areas of practice; rejecting them because they reinforce systems that we intend to dismantle. Black Men Who Brunch is an expression of this desire for different, and demand to start doing different now, rather than at some yet to be determined time in the future. We have seen how easy it is for the noble aim to be pursued by less than noble means. The poor example of the charity leader who exploits workers ‘for the greater good’, or the politician who becomes mired in corruptions of the system she vowed wholeheartedly to undermine in her younger days.
So here is a link to the questions that we will be focusing on tomorrow, and the videos that we will be watching. If you’re the kind of person who likes to take their time to think about an issue – even read around it a little, that’s great, do you. If you are the kind of person who gets inspiration by looking briefly and allowing ideas to percolate, you’re welcome. If you think it’ll spoil the fun, then you don’t have to look. Unlike so many other unspoken rules and daily ‘white lies’ this is NOT a test. Life is already too trying
Enjoy. Let me know whether it’s interesting to see or not, and whether it changed your relationship to the work and the panellists. Which leads me to introduce the panellists . . .
You’ll have guessed by now that this is part of the exercise in thinking differently about power. Questioning whether we hold onto mystery in order to give ourselves the illusion of control, when transparency means that your energy can be directed to issues and matters that . . . matter. Is this how the truth, sets you free?
You may have noticed that I asked for feedback about #BlackMenWhoBrunch in the newsletter that went out to those on our mailing list earlier this week. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think and have already registered that this is question that I should be asking more routinely and systematically.
. . . and music sharing
and remember to share the fun
I hope that you will be able to join us for a couple of drinks and maybe some karaoke at the Zodiac Bar, Black Men Who Brunch after party