Saturday, January 21, 2006

Not A Genuine Black Man

This is the title of the exceptional one-man show we saw Thursday evening at the Marsh Theater south of Market Street, San Fran (Valencia and 22nd). The performance has run almost two years, both in SF and in LA.

It is the story of Brian Copeland growing up black in what was then almost all white San Leandro, next to Oakland. Brian wrote and performs it. Soon it will be an HBO series, released in book form, and I hear that Brian is also taking it to Broadway. For more (information, tickets) go to .

Among many things, Brian is special because he doesn’t believe in Reparations. But, “If they are crazy enough to send me a check, I’ll cash it. I’m not crazy.” Brian also apologizes for not being a genuine black, including apologies for not dealing crack, not running off and leaving his wife and children, not doing a lot of things that would make him a “genuine” black.

Of course, these are all of the things that endeared Brian to me. But Brian is far from being a right-wing propagandist and traitor to his race. His life experiences included a lot of blatant racial insults, perhaps more upsetting because they occurred in liberal northern California, right in the shadow of Berkeley. However, Brian overcame adversity and, in the process, has created a performance that is so memorable that I’m ashamed that I had prejudged it and wondered what in the heck Alice had dragged me off to this time.

Now I’m trying to do you a special favor. If you catch Brian’s performance, you will profusely thank me for the recommendation.

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