26 Feb Breach + Learning To Love Yourself At All Times
Funny, witty, and mad real are words that best describe “Breach”, a manifesto on race in America through the eyes of a woman recovering from self hate, which I had the opportunity to watch on February 24 at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. The play, written by Antoinette Nwandu and directed by Lisa Portes, explores the dynamics of being a black woman in America and learning to live in a society made by white people for white people.
While I won’t give the entire play away (mostly because I want you to see it), the main character, Margaret, copes with hating who she is because of familial and societal challenges she has experienced throughout her life. In her eyes, nothing good comes from being black therefore she sets out to change as much as she can. She wears long silky weaves, adopts a new way of speaking, gets a white boyfriend in finance, and maintains that all black men are not worthy of her trust.
And the crazy part about it all …. is that I’ve felt those same emotions before. The pain that Margaret experiences is a pain that’s all too familiar to me.
While I didn’t distrust and deny black men, I remember in my early twenties having the urge to deny my culture and everything that represented “blackness” for the sake of being accepted.
I wanted straighter hair, a broader nose, and lighter skin, but most importantly, I wanted a chance.
I thought that if I possessed all of those things that life would be easier, black men would find me more desirable because I could pass as “foreign” and I would be afforded better opportunities and a more luxurious lifestyle.
I imagined that if I could “pass”, it would open me up to experience the world differently, I would have a larger pool of men that I could date, and I would be privileged and not have to walk through the world shattering stereotypes and generalizations.
I thought that if I had lighter skin, I would no longer have to fight to make my voice heard and my passion would no longer be mistaken for anger.
This similar to what Margaret experiences.
Unlike her though, it didn’t take some life changing moment for me to wake up and embrace who I am.
Thankfully, I slowly began to realize that the color of my skin was something that would not change and I should not want to change (do not insert a Michael Jackson or Sammy Sosa joke right here).
I came to learn that in order to learn to love myself, I would need to accept myself completely – skin color and all. I would also have to learn to accept the society I lived in and understand that regardless of the glass ceilings set for me, I would commit to pushing forward.
A few years ago, I wanted to disassociate myself from my culture.
Today, I embrace every part of it.
Breach was a conventional play with common themes and principals, however, the premise of the play is important and worthy of exploration and discussion.
Margaret’s journey is one that many black women (and black men) can identify with and have experienced at some point in their lives. Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about it in “Between The World” and Me and Solange touches on it in “At Seat At The Table”.
Learning to embrace blackness is journey worthy of a spotlight.