28 DAYS OF BLACKNESS: Needing More Black In The Bard

Shameless plug: watch The Tragedy of MacBeth on AppleTV. You’re welcome. -JBH

The first time I was exposed to William Shakespeare was at age 11 with the HBO Show Shakespeare: The Animated Series by Robin Williams (Oh Captain, My Captain). I remember being enthralled with his use of language, and how deft it was. My favorite plays (so glad you asked): Othello, MacBeth, King Lear. So to hear that the legendary Denzel Washington had starred in MacBeth?

Say less! Say. LESS!

With the success of more Black Brits whom have made a mark with their acting careers in American film (I’m looking at you Daniel Kaluuya and David Oyelowo! Bless up!), I am reminded of the Netflix documentary, They Gotta Have Us, our British cousins speak about the racism and denial of roles in the UK for Black actors. The one which stuck out was the uproar around David Oyelowo when he was cast as (I believe) the lead in the play Henry VI. The reason for the uproar? You already know: White Brits didn’t want a Black man portrayed as a monarch…whom wasn’t Black.

So to see Denzel as MacBeth? To see him in all of his Blackness, all of his regality he has always brought to any screen, I am here for this! Here for it!

As a writer, I advocate (sometimes shamelessly) for Black actors. With that advocacy, I am aware that this type of racism and erasure are pervasive through film and media. Racism seeks to either erase us or relegate us to always being tragic or always under the current being a complete human being. Seeing Black people taking over this last bastion of Whiteness, the work of the messiah of English language William Shakespeare, it is like more ceilings falling in, confronting racism one word at at time.

Blackness is rich, and we since we birthed civilization, will be not make The Bard that much more amazing?

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