Barack Obama, Bill, Soho Playhouse discussed on All of It


Growing up my entire life. People would ask me me. Exact same question. Are you? What are you? What are you? What are you? Are you like what are you? Racial, people are growing three times. Eight in the population. There's going to be very near future for somebody like me. Let me guess you're mono, racial. I didn't know they were making them in all white anymore. The day. I became black premier at the Hollywood fringe festival in two thousand eighteen where it was nominated for best seller show. It is now running at the SoHo playhouse through may six and Bill is in studio. Thanks for coming to the studio home. I got thank you so much block walk away. No, man. This is so cool. Thank you so much for having me. I saw the show yesterday. And it's so funny. You have at the top of the show a couple of disclaimers about people white people in the audience and black people in the audience tell our listeners what the disclaimers are and why you felt they were necessary. Yeah. So I started the show the exact same. Disclaimer. I say we're going to go we're gonna cover some racial, topics. So we're going to go down some rough roads. And I just want to say white people. It's okay to laugh, it's okay. To laugh from the bottom of your gut. Black people do me a favor when they're laughing. Don't stare at him. Okay. Let's try and create a safe space. And I do that just because you know, I want to allow people to feel free to enjoy the show, especially creating a safe en-. Environment to discuss very difficult issues is what I want to provide especially in today's society. Whereas, you know, things people aren't being taken care of when we talk about things and people don't feel safe to express themselves. And I wanted to make sure that that was something that people fell, and I don't necessarily just mean for the white audience. I mean for the black audience as well, I didn't want them to feel defensive or that they had to feel you know, pressure to act a certain way because I've been in that situation where you know, you hear or see imagery that is tough or difficult to look at. And you are looking around to see how everybody else is reacting to it or seeing how they're looking at you react to it. So I wanted everybody to just feel safe and secure. So that we only thing they have to worry about is enjoying the show the titles provocative because it suggests there's one day. I don't wanna give anything away. But. Something big happens to you, which is sort of at the crescendo. But it's also about this how all through your life. You have these reminders that you have two different parts of your family. And somehow people wanna make you choose. It's a really interesting. There's actually one really interesting part when you're describing a little you having to deal with a certain word in in a certain book, we all read and little little tough black was like, yo you can't say that word and then little little white. You has like headgear. And it's just like, let's let's go out and play. Did you really have that sense of that that dual personality? Yes, I think that the, you know. The experience of of somebody who is by racial is a unique in the fact that you have a insight into both cultures. And you have an empathy in a relationship with both cultures. Right. And so when my friend who was white ended up having to read a word in a book out starts with an right? You know, everybody kind of looked at me. And was like, oh my God. What's this person going to do? And you know, there was the thought me that was like, oh, man. I have to fight this guy because I am black or perceived black, and I need to stand up for this word. But there is this, you know. This other person in me who knows that white people are my cousins, white people are my family, and there's an empathy that I have toward that experience as well that maybe other people who are all black may not have in. So there was a moment where I was like, oh, well, this, you know, he's reading it. And he was forced to read it didn't he hasn't. This isn't this thing. So like being able to see the world through both of those lenses. I think really the word is that I have empathy to both sides. So that perspective makes it a little bit more unique. My guess is Bill posted the name of his show is the day, I became black. It's running threat. So playhouse through may six when I first saw this. And I said, no, we're gonna do this segment. I remembered something I saw on sixty minutes with Barack Obama. Yes. Have you ever seen this clip? It's from two thousand seven so he was candidate Obama and Steve Kroft of sixty minutes. I asked him this is the question. Yeah. Yet at some point you decided that you were black. Goes. Well, I'm not sure I decided it. I think if you look African American and this society, you're treated as an African American. That's an incredible Lee. Weird question. Right. Well, nice word, and it's really interesting when you watch this clip, you see Obama's I just they his he blinks a lot and he c- he self-regulates. Yes. He doesn't really say what he wants to say. What do you think about his answer? I think that that answer is the exact way that I felt once I kind of got an understanding of what it meant to be forced to identify. So this this whole time, right? Obama has such a deep connection to half of himself, which is his white half. Because he was raised by his white mom, and you know, when he announced his candidacy or or put himself out there as by racial. It was immediately criticized why people wouldn't let him be by racial. They said that he was black black people were offended that he said he was biracial. And they're saying that he was black. And so after a while, you just feel this need to be like, okay, I'm going to stop fighting it I'm going to give in and the world sees me as black there decided that I'm black. So guess what? I'm black. And so I know in relate exactly to that feeling because it's really difficult to maintain a biracial identity that makes sense to you you describe it as being kind of tiring it can be very tiring at some times during your during your life. Yes. Because you have to keep correcting people or expressing to people how. Serious that identity is to you. And how much it means to you? And you know, I've been around and I've heard it from both sides. You know, also like there are for my experience to be around black people who speak poorly of white people and be like, hey, guys. That's my mom, and my cousins, and my family and people I love very much. But are also I've also, you know, there are biracial people who are white passing around white people and hear them say very disres- discriminatory things toward a black. People are like, hey, man. I'm black late. What's wrong with you? And so like, you you always feel like it's something that you're thinking about something that you're trying to express to the world. But you don't quite know how to at every turn you feel like you're getting pushback from it. It's interesting in the show. You talk about how you're just trying to navigate as a kid and you're trying to live in both worlds, and it's so innocent and sweet. And then you have this. Moment when your dad has to give you the talk young black, man talk. Nice sort of sweet firefighter. Father suddenly turns into like a Black Panther. And your description, and and the way you portray it is both it's funny. And it's a little sad to say very, very funny. Right. Did your dad really have that kind of transformation or is that a little political a little poetic license this a little poetic license? But there was also a level of like, you know. When when you're. When you parents sits you down and have a serious talk. You're like who is this person? You know, what I mean who does this person be become, and it also becomes a very interesting thing because you again, like I was saying you grow up around your white family, and you have a relationship to see your dad, you know, shaking your uncles hands in and, you know, being with your mom, and you know, they your cousins, call him, uncle pose which is my dad's name and then for him to sit down and be like, listen that way family eight the family that's going to have your back. If stuff goes down. They're not the family who's going to accept you. If if we split into a race war, you need to realize that you don't have the same privileges as that side of your family. So that so like to see a dad go from this from uncle pose to like watch them conspiracy theory like you're just like, oh my God. God what's happening? So I it took on a different level of severity to me. And he came off a little bit more like a Black Panther. They he did my dad at the time. You know? And I was just like, whoa. Who is this guy? Like Bill -posedly the name of his show is the day. I became black. The show's really funny, and you you really push a lot of push a lot of tough themes through comedy shit right up to the edge. There's you have a video game. You just that's a way to teach black history. Look, it's an enslaved person and change like you can make him break out a Super Mario brothers, the little figure looks like and you call up presidents Jefferson Washington for having enslave people you take up toxic masculinity through to porn black masculine Beathard porn. Is there any one thing? You can tell really makes the audience uncomfortable that you kind of can get a sense from because an intimate room. Right. Yeah. I think that. Cutted definitely the stuff that you were talking about in the style without getting too specific. It is. What you start to realize or what I started to realize is if I was going to take on a black identity in this country that one of the things that I wanted to learn a little bit more about was what it meant to be black in America. Once I once I started to realize that that's how I was being perceived. And then when you go to look at it, you realize, oh, I've not really been educated on that in this country. It's as if we started slavery wake up and Martin Luther King and like nothing in between. And so comedic I- hypothe- hypothesized that the reason why we don't do that is because it's too difficult, and I suggest different kinds of teaching techniques to do that one of which being slavery the video game. And as a joke in order to show that we can take graphic material. I mean, we do it all the time we go to World War Two and call of duty or the Spanish inquisition in assassin's creed. And those are both wars where where Jews were murdered and persecuted, and we still play those games and so through comedy. I try my best to express that. There is something systemically wrong in this country about the way black history is taught and so it's time for us to figure out a way to make those complex and difficult. Subjects more relatable to kids. And that was something that I think makes people uncomfortable that makes them laugh. I, you know, I think there's an expression, and I'm going to butcher it. But it's something similar I tried to tickle the ribs before you inject the medicine, you know, and just allow people to laugh, but also go, oh, he he's he's got a point there. There is something wrong with that. And I do think we need to learn a little bit more or I never thought of it like that, you know. Every person I think who gets a chance to see the show because at the end of the day, the show is about somebody search for identity, and I think that everybody who gets a chance to see the show identifies with some aspect of it. I had a seventy year old couple come up to me and say, I'm German. He's Jewish in our parents disowned us to and they related with my parents in the story, and they saw the two of them have to decide their identity as they were doing. I've had people from the LGBT community come up and say, I know it's like to have an identity forced upon me when it was something I didn't really understand at the time. And he didn't live inside of me. And so like that was somebody who had there was no racial. Connection at all. It was just an identity connection. So I think that those are some albeit uncomfortable and a little different. I still think that everybody walks out taking something from that show has anyone have you had any outbursts or weird. Vocalisations during the show that you didn't expect. Oh, let me tell you one of my favorite things is black people..

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