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#1403: More on stereotypes (fwd)

From: Lois E Wilcken <makandal-ny@juno.com>

This has been a research area for me for some time because it impacts the
work of the popular artists with whom I work.  I believe the problem goes
beyond race.  Very recently our group (La Troupe Makandal) did a piece
focussed on Danbala.  A woman from another group on the program took one
of our dancers aside afterward to lecture her on the evils of the
serpent.  Sadly, she was African American.  If it's not just white folks
shooting down people of color with negative images, then something else
is at work.

We say much about the racist nature of negative stereotypes, but little
about their classist nature.  For Haiti, the problem is rooted, I
believe, in the fact that the Revolution  posed a major threat to
emergent capitalism.  During the first U.S. occupation, scores of books
about zonbis and cannibalism appeared, as well as the first "voodoo"
film, The White Zombie.  These media sensations rationalized the economic
exploitation of Haiti--the primary reason for the U.S. presence.

I would never brush aside the salience of color prejudice, but "race" is
a nebulous construct that distracts from such class-induced realities as
hunger, infant mortality, and reduced life expectancy.  In #1383, Goff
cites the "ideological hegemony" the ruling class uses to "suppress
and-or misrepresent historical materialism."  I suggest that the
"scooby-doos" are part of their tool kit.

Lois Wilcken
La Troupe Makandal - New York City's #1 Haitian Roots Ensemble
621 Rutland Road, Brooklyn NY 11203
718-953-6638 / makandal-ny@juno.com