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  • Jamal Gerald

White Audiences

Hey you! How you do?


Yes, I know it’s been a while. I haven’t really had much to write about. But I have started my tour for my show ‘Idol’, and I have thoughts that I need to get off my chest. As always, don’t carry on reading if you’re easily offended.


So, to be blunt, I don't think I can perform in front of a majority white audience anymore. Since I started my tour recently, the first two performances have included: White people rolling their eyes and looking at me with dead faces. All sat in the fucking front rows.

WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU HERE? LEAVE! GET THE FUCK OUT! EURGH!


And they’re mostly the ones that claim to be ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’. But, they’re not. If you can’t handle a Black queer person speaking his truth for 70 minutes, are you even an ally? Are you as progressive or liberal as you make out? Nah, you’re not. Fuck off. You’re full of shit. I'd rather you stay your ass at home.


I acknowledge that there are white people who think my work is great. But my show ‘Idol’ is about Black representation. So, therefore their opinions on the work aren't really important to me. That sounds harsh but it’s the truth. I can hear when there’s Black people in my audiences, because they get the references. I understand that there’s people who enjoy work quietly. But why? Is it because it’s Black? Or is it because they don’t get it? Whiteness has taught white audiences to stay silent and to sit still. It doesn’t help any of us. The rules that whiteness has taught us need to be broken. Yes, there’s laughs and claps here and there, but it does feel like a bit of a hesitation.


Autobiographical performance is so hard. I don't see myself making another one. I'm done.

I will of course still make more work. But, this is the most difficult work I have ever made. It’s so demanding. I just hate the thought that I’m giving so much to an audience and I’m not receiving anything in return. And then I think about my white counterparts, who make autobiographical work and receive standing ovations. But, let’s not go there though. That’s too deep. No shade, but their writing is NOT better than mine. Whenever I’m annoyed, my ego comes out.


I feed off an audience, so when an audience is dead, my performance will most likely be dead. Are white audiences worthy of witnessing me relive some of my trauma? No! Yes, I made this show. So, it's my own issue to deal with.


However, I don't like the thought of being some sort of a lapdog for white people. I mean, I could get a Black performer to perform my work. But what does that mean when I’m getting someone else to perform my trauma? Is that okay? It’s a tricky one. If an artist chooses to do that, it’s their choice, there’s no right or wrong. I personally don’t know if I would be okay with it. Maybe one day I will be.


There have been occasions where Black people come up to me teary-eyed, or even full-on crying because they really appreciated and got the work. I know the work won't hit every Black person the same way. But it's just evident who this work was made for.


Myself and my team are trying our best to attract Black audiences. But, VENUES! I know some of you are trying your best at programming more Black and Brown work. But what about the audiences? What are you doing? Are you doing anything? Like, real talk though. And mind you, this is for venues in general. ACROSS THE BOARD!


I know, I’m doing my bit in trying to make a change in society. But, what are YOU doing to make a change? I’ll wait. I'm happy to have this big tour lined-up, but will it be worth it if the majority of my audiences are white? Sigh. Yes, white people can learn shit from seeing my work. But it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. There’s Google, I don’t make work to educate white people.


I know why Black people don’t come to see work, one part is that they don’t see themselves represented. The other part is venues aren't trying their best to engage Black audiences.

The only time I have seen lots of Black people in a theatre is because there were Black people on stage!


I’m going to be honest, I cried last night. Because I'm so upset that I made this work for Black audiences, but a lot of Black people most likely won't see it. And I understand that not all Black people are going to love the show, that’s fine. I always say that Black people are NOT one dimensional.


But I’d much prefer a conversation with a Black person who didn't like the work instead of with a white one. I’d prefer for a Black person to be rolling their eyes or sleeping in my audience than a white person. I’d prefer to perform in front of a majority Black audience that is silent. I’d prefer for there to be Black people offended by some of the content.


If you're a white person coming to see my work, who is a fake progressive or liberal, don’t fucking bother. Because I'm really close to stopping one of my performances and asking a white person why they're here. If I see another white person rolling their eyes, I might lose it. Yes, I love being provocative, and those white people were and still most likely offended. Good. But offending white people gets boring after a while. I do want to connect with Black people first and foremost.


So, if you’re Black please come and see my work. I don’t see myself doing all of this tour if it’s going to remain like this. My mental health is fucked up enough as it is. And I don’t need anymore reasons to be depressed.


Good day.


J x

© 2019 Jamal Gerald

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