I’m thrilled to know that The Public Theater is once again “putting this mosaic out into the world.” And that Ruben Santiago-Hudson has biracial kids. And that he speaks openly about it. Actually that’s not extraordinary, but I didn’t know that about him before. I love The Winter’s Tale. My favorite monologue is in it. If I weren’t too persnickety to wait in line for hours for tickets, I would be sure to see this. However, it’s not gonna happen. My loss, I’m sure. Just for clarification, the “yay” is for depicting a “non-traditional” marriage/family. Not for Hudson marrying a Swede and having mixed kids. Although I like that a lot too.
Actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson and his twins Trey and Lily attended the “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals” film premiere on February 17, 2010 in Westwood, California.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson Tells the Tale
The actor discusses starring in the Shakespeare in the Park production of The Winter’s Tale.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson has been the epitome of excellence for over 30 years; winning a Tony Award for Seven Guitars, numerous honors for the HBO adaptation of his acclaimed solo play Lackawanna Blues, and plaudits for his direction of several shows including Things of Dry Hours and The First Breeze of Summer. This summer, he’s starring in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of The Winter’s Tale, and in the fall, he’ll be back co-starring on ABC’s hit crime drama Castle. TheaterMania recently spoke with Santiago-Hudson about these projects.
THEATERMANIA: What made you want to do The Winter’s Tale this summer rather than just take a nice breather between shooting Castle?
RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON: I just love the challenge of doing Shakespeare. I am part of the Public Theater family and I got a call to look at the play, and before I could even finish it, I said I’d love to do it.
TM: Your character, Leontes, is considered one of the most difficult in the canon, since you accuse your wife and best friend of infidelity without any seeming cause. How do you justify that?
RSH: It is a challenge to make that action comprehensible to the audience. But I look at the text. Polixenses may be my friend, but he’s stayed with my family for nine months — and I think if anyone stayed that long at my house, I’d find fault with them. And I am sure over that time, Leontes has seen some glimpses of unusual behavior — perhaps wearing less clothing around each other or laughing too loud.
TM: Still, you cause your wife to kill herself and banish your infant daughter. How is the audience supposed to sympathize with that?
RSH: I hope the audience sees that I balance my cruelty with much love and that my actions came from defending my honor and that my rage is from jealousy and madness. It’s important that I am not just being the stereotypical angry black man. And when it all comes clear, I’m the most penitent person — I’m almost a saint by the end of the play.
TM: As is typical of many productions at the Public, the cast is completely multi-racial. For example, your wife, Hermoine, is being played by Linda Emond, who is white. What are your thoughts about this?
RSH: I think it reflects the mirror of modern society. When you look in the newspaper, you see Sandra Bullock with a black child. And this play reflects what my real family looks like — my wife is Swedish and our children are biracial — so it’s great to put out this mosaic to the world. And I think we should put the best artists we can on stage, and what I love about the Public Theater’s audience is they feel the same way. They don’t care if the king is black and the queen is white; they’re out there to see this play done well.
Linda Emond and Ruben Santiago-Hudson
in rehearsal for The Winter’s Tale
(© Nella Vera)
Fantastic commentary on something that I totally missed in the media. I honestly don’t know who Drake is. I’ll look him up in a sec…. Oh. I see. Anyway, Whitney Teal makes such great points here (a fav being that one would never compare G.W. Bush to Eminem), and has me wanting to make a list of all the “kinds of biracial” that I can imagine. And then I want to study the intricacies of the experiences that molded the various varieties of biracialness. I love biracial. It never gets old for me. I suppose you can call me Captain Obvious for that statement.
Is One Mulatto the Same as the Next?
By Whitney Teal
Has the election of President Obama changed the way we think about biracial people in this country? I’d argue that it’s questionable. Especially when people are drawing comparisons between the prez — a half-white, half-Kenyan, Ivy League-educated lawyer — and Aubrey Graham, otherwise known as Drake, who is a half-Jewish and half-African-American entertainer from Canada. Yeah, I don’t see the similarities either.
thomas chatterton williams
But TheRoot.com contributor Thomas Chatterton Williams, who describes himself as the son of a black father and a white mother,” seems to think that the two mulattoes (his word, not mine) deserve a comparison. Yes, Williams thinks that it’s helpful to compare a Canadian rapper and the President (as he puts it, one of the “most visible mulattoes living and working today”). And he’s not alone, either. A few months back, a couple of my Twitter friends and I ripped Chester French band member David-Andrew ‘D.A.’ Wallach a new one for tweeting that he was discussing “all the similarities” between the two men. When I asked him to explain himself, he replied, “For one, I think they’re both extremely studied.” Womp, womp, cop-out. Lots of men are studied. President Obama and Drake are both, simply, biracial. And they’re not even the same “kind” biracial either, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference.
When I showed my sister the story on The Root, she screamed (via Google Messenger) and replied, “Obama and Drake in the same sentence? Do people mention [President] Bush and Eminem in the same sentence?” She’s right. White men are allowed to choose their own identities. Black men not so much, and biracial men certainly not. Which begs the question, why can’t we see that one biracial person is not the same as the next?
In general, polite company, we as general, polite people, recognize that a person’s experiences are not solely dictated by their race or ethnicity. For example, I don’t think people considering Lucy Liu, a famous actress, and Connie Chung, an award-winning journalist, would try and argue that the two have much in common, at least on the surface. The same with Denzel Washington and Reggie Bush, or Barbara Streisand and Heidi Fleiss. No comparisons. But people, general and polite as they are, still seem to view the experiences of biracial people in this country as singular in nature.
And often, as The Root essay explores, polarizing. “Mixed-race blacks [...] are the physical incarnation of a racial dilemma that all blacks inevitably must confront: To sell out or keep it real? That is the question,” writes Williams, who spends the better part of 1,000 words waxing on about the definition of authentic blackness (or at least how he sees it). According to Williams, a mixed-race person must choose to be black, like the president and like Drake, who “both proudly define themselves as black.” A mixed-race person must then “act black,” which Williams sees as wearing loose clothes and playing basketball.
If blackness meant just one thing, and if mixed-race people were able to align themselves with just one part of their identity, then his essay might hold more weight. But black people don’t have just one identity, at least not to ourselves. Hollywood directors, novelists and journalists may see us as trash-talking, saggy pant-wearing basketball fanatics, but I don’t think that’s how we see ourselves. And by asserting that he can turn his black switch on and off, simply by altering the fit of his pants, Williams — though he may identify as black — shows how much he doesn’t understand the complexity of black culture.
Which is why I don’t believe that we should automatically label mixed-race people as black; they’re mixed-race. Being biracial may be similar to African-American culture, just as West African and West Indian cultures share similarities to black culture, but ultimately have their own dialects, dress, worship practices, food and courtship rituals. But biracial people etch out their own identities. Sure, they may be similar to that of African-Americans or other cultures. But it’s limiting to both black and biracial people when society automatically labels anyone with brown skin and textured hair black. Whether we’re talking about President Obama or anyone else, what it means to be biracial is an entirely individual question.
Once again, in honor of Loving Day, I thought it would be interesting to post this peek into the modern day interracial dating scene. As experience by a black woman in Boston….
Posted by Meredith Goldstein
I am a young, black, college-educated professional who has lived in Boston for most of my life. I recently turned 30 and am ready to have a serious relationship with someone special, irrespective of race.
I have dated a few Caucasian and Asian men, and one person from the Middle East. Every one of these encounters ended immediately after they realized that I was expecting more than a sexual relationship (I usually ended it). However, getting to that point was only half the battle. The hardest part was the approach! I think a lot of surprisingly wonderful relationships could be had if people weren’t afraid to step inside or outside of the “crayon box.” There have been many instances where I’ll overhear a white guy telling his friends how “hot” he thinks I am or after having way too many beers obnoxiously yell “I love Black chicks!” Not including the annoying drunk guy — why won’t non-black men approach me if there is physical interest?
And before anyone asks … yes, I date black men. Almost all of my relationships, serious or otherwise, have been within my race. However, I’ve always been open to dating men outside of my race. And due to the reasons previously mentioned, have been unable to do so.
Now back to the second portion of the problem I mentioned earlier. When we get past the “approach” barrier, I then find out that these men were hoping to use me as some sexual guinea pig. I’ve even had one guy tell me that he has a girlfriend but has “always wondered what it would be like to sleep with a pretty black girl.” Needless to say, he did not get the chance to conduct his experiment on me. My other encounters were almost as disappointing. I’ve really clicked with several guys. Had great phone conversations and shared mutual interest in various areas. We’d make each other laugh, talk about work, life goals, family, friends, hobbies, etc … BUT, the conversation would always redirect back to sex… After realizing that I wanted more than to be their guilty pleasure, I would end it. I’ve had white male friends who I get along with great as friends. Then they would profess some secret crush they had on me over the years. They were apprehensive in pursuing a serious relationship and were more than happy to think we could be friends with benefits. There was never a problem with meeting their friends and family — or being introduced as their good friend. Being introduced or even thought of as their girlfriend, however, was an issue.
I’m left to wonder if non-black men still hold some pre-conceived notion about the ENTIRE species of black women. It escapes me as to why black men are able to easily, quickly, and openly approach and date women outside of their race, yet it’s so difficult and rare for non-black men to do the same with black women. When I go to NY, it’s very common to see mixed race relationships involving black women. But, I almost never see that here in MA. Is it a geographical thing? Is Massachusetts just as conservative when it comes to dating? Why are non-black men afraid to approach black women that they are attracted to? Are we seen as nothing more than “angry black women”….or even sex-crazed video vixens waiting to fulfill some secret chocolate craving?
When I go to NY, it’s very common to see mixed race relationships involving black women.” CNS, I see a lot of things in New York that I just don’t see anywhere else. New York is pretty amazing when it comes to diversity, acceptance, and dating without boundaries. New York also has all-night public transportation and cheap cabs. It’s the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do. Compare any city to New York and you’re in trouble. (That said, Go Sox!)
There will always be a lot of people who are only comfortable dating within their race, religion, or tax bracket, no matter where you live. Some of those people are very nice despite their boundaries. There will also be some real idiots out there who see dating outside of the “crayon box” as some sort of exciting science project. Luckily, those people tend to expose themselves pretty quickly by getting drunk and yelling things like, “I love black chicks!” I’m sorry that has happened to you. It’s upsetting and disheartening.
There will also be people who share your goal of finding someone awesome, no matter what color they are or where they come from. They’re out there. Some of those men might be scared to approach you, but that might not have anything to do with race. Some men are afraid of the approach, in general.
I’d add that a lot of your other dating issues… are also pretty typical. Guys who seek friends with benefits, guys who fixate on the hookup portion of a date — that’s all typical Love Letters stuff, isn’t it? I’m not saying that you’re wrong about the “crayon box,” but don’t attribute more to race than you have to.
My advice is to keep dating, approach men who appeal to you, be clear about your intentions, and get to know people well. Someone who cares about you, understands your goals, and has earned your trust isn’t going to want to use you as an experiment or a friend with benefits.
Readers? Is this a Massachusetts thing? How can she approach men outside of her “crayon box” without having to wonder whether they’re taking her seriously? Is race as much of an issue as she thinks it is?
It’s Loving Day! Interracial Marriage has been legal nationwide for an entire 43 years! Imagine that. A few days agao CNN.com ran this piece giving us an idea of what people really think about interracial marriage today. I think it an appropriate post for the occasion.
Your views on interracial marriages
(CNN) — “Interracial/interethnic marriage is a great way of fighting war, hatred and prejudice. Think about it. If we all are mixed, who can we hate?” wrote a reader about a CNN.com story on race and marriage.
That comment was one of the thousands of responses to the story about a new study from the Pew Research Center that found interracial and interethnic marriages are at a record high of about one in seven.
About 14.6 percent of newly married couples reported in 2008 that they married outside their race or ethnicity, according to the Pew report released Friday. In 1980, about 6.8 percent of newlywed couples surveyed said their spouse was of another race or ethnicity.
Overall, reader reactions voiced support for mixed relationships, with many commenters proudly identifying themselves as being in an interracial or interethnic relationship.
“I’ve been happily married in a mixed race marriage for seven years. To anyone who would like to oppose mixed race marriage: What gives you the right? I pay taxes, served in the U.S. military (where I was disabled) and watched all kinds of races die in service to the pledge to protect every American’s freedom. So as far as I’m concerned, blood only has one color: RED, and there’s only one race: the human one,” wrote BeerMan5000.
Reader RippedJeans, a black woman, talked about marrying her white boyfriend of three years. She wrote, “I could not be happier! I love him for the MAN that he is, and I’m truly grateful for having him in my life. Love is colorblind. …”
Danchar821 was also in support of interracial marriages. Reflecting on her personal experience, Danchar821 wrote. “We met online through mutual friends. I went to Mexico every month last year and we were married. I could not be happier. There are cultural differences, but if anything, they have helped me to grow as a person. She is wonderful and so loving and I feel truly blessed and happy. The racism that some people show on here is truly sad. We are expecting our first child — a boy — in September.”
Another couple talked about their wedding ceremony, which celebrated their cultural differences. Reader cellblock131 wrote, “I am Hispanic and married a white woman. … When it came to our wedding, we had a mixture of both cultural practices. For example, my dad read passages in Spanish, then her dad read them in English. The reception had traditional white American dances, plus Mexican in the mix. It was a wonderful wedding.”
One reader identified only as Guest said he won’t date outside his race.
“I care what race the women I date are. I am a white male. I date only white females. Sure there are attractive women in other races but I stick with my own. It’s America land of the free,” wrote Guest.
AntigoneR ignores people’s objections.”I can only speak for myself, but I really don’t care how many people accept or do not accept my interracial relationship. I don’t recall asking their opinion. Having said that, I’m glad to see that the trend in society is more accepting, and that racial barriers are crumbling. I wish it were faster.”
One commenter echoed a common view among the Millennial Generation, found in an earlier study this year from the Pew Center that reported 85 percent of 19- to 28-year-olds accept interracial and interethnic relationships. SIR10LY wrote: “It’s 2010. I can’t even believe this is still an issue! If two people love each other, let them be. … If you’re opposed to it, get with the times already!”
Children of mixed marriages also shared their views.
Reader Anex wrote, “Product of an Interracial marriage and darn proud of it! I’m a happy mutt!”
Other readers pointed to the challenges of marrying someone outside their race.
“But one thing the article does not mention is divorce among interracial couples is much higher than same-race couples. Challenges in understanding, family relations and pressures overall are higher. People should know what they’re getting into,” warned a reader.
WHATRU wrote, “I’m an Arab, my husband is white. It gets more complicated after you have kids. The cultures and beliefs are just too different. It is easier to marry your own kind.”
Reader Toadlife wrote that racial discrimination can also be difficult. “Race matters because racial discrimination continues to happen all around us to this day. If you think otherwise, you are naive and probably white and have all white relatives. Thankfully, we’ve come to a point in our society where race is not a determining factor in one’s fate, but it can still be an obstacle from time to time,” Toadlife wrote.
Reader nal4america said her decision about whom to date is influenced by what race she grew up with. “I’m of West Indian decent and I grew up in a small town in Utah. I am so used to dating outside of my race that I don’t even date men of my race simply because I am not attracted to them. I think the environment you grow up in plays a huge factor in the mate you select. I am 95 percent certain my husband will be of a race other than my own and that’s fine because I believe in the American Race.”
Native Americans had yet another take on the situation.
“… [T]here can never truly be justice and real harmony on stolen land … just like there can never be peace and harmony in a house that’s been burglarized and its inhabitants marginalized and oppressed … ask an Apache or Navaho or black American if they are happy to live in a society dominated by white people. The indigenous were here for many thousands of years before the Europeans destroyed the culture and lands of the indigenous almost worldwide,” wrote hotepk. “…What must happen is either they go back to Europe or pay restitution — like any other convict guilty of a crime — otherwise there will continue to be struggle.”
Ndngirl2010 responded: @hotepk–I am full blooded Navajo and I’m fine with living alongside whites and get this –*gasp*– I married one! A majority of my family doesn’t harbor any animosity toward any other race. Let bygones be bygones and, instead, focus on the future.”
The readers who responded to CNN’s coverage on the Pew Research Center study seemed to acknowledge the growing blurring of races and ethnicities.
Reader HalfBaked shared: “My wife’s biological mother is Filipino/Mexican and her biological father is Scottish. She was adopted at birth into a German-Jewish family. My mother’s side is Italian/Turkish and my father was Hungarian. Our kids are about as ‘mixed’ as you can get.”
Upon reading the headline of the article my mom emailed me, I was all set to be very offended by these photos. After reading it and seeing the pics, I am not offended. Is that bad? When I read “blackface” I think poorly applied shoe polish and outrageously red lipstick. When I saw these pictures and read Schiffer’s statement that they were playing with different men’s fantasies, I thought it made sense. Lagerfeld and Dom Perignon hired one super Supermodel to play two characters (for lack of a better analogy). To me this is not offensive. I don’t think Schiffer kept a black model from working that day. What if Naomi Campbell had done the ad in “whiteface”? Would that be offensive? I also wonder if Heidi Klum would have agreed to participate in this. I would love to get her take on it.
Claudia Schiffer strikes controversial pose in ‘blackface’ for German magazine
BY MEENA HARTENSTEIN
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Claudia Schiffer is one of the world’s best-loved supermodels, but she’s drawing a firestorm of criticism for her latest magazine cover.
The blond stunner is at the center of a racially-charged controversy after a photo of her in “blackface” hit the Internet this month.
In the photo, which was shot by Karl Lagerfeld two years ago as part of an ad campaign for Dom Perignon, Schiffer is disguised in an Afro wig and dark face paint, prompting accusations of insensitivity.
“It shows poor taste and it’s offensive,” Shevelle Rhule, fashion editor at black lifestyle magazine Pride, told U.K.’s Daily Mail. “There are not enough women of color featured in mainstream magazines. This just suggests you can counteract the problem by using white models.”
The photo resurfaced when German magazine Stern Fotografie repurposed the image as one of six hardback covers for its 60th anniversary issue.
The other covers also feature Schiffer in various costumed looks shot by Lagerfeld – as a sexy secretary, a leather-clad cop, Marie Antoinette, and even an Asian woman in a kimono.
Schiffer’s rep defended the series, saying, “The pictures have been taken out of context. The images were designed to reflect different men’s fantasies. The pictures were not intended to offend.
Read more HERE