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The word “Black” is examined from four dissimilar viewpoints

Gregg Reese OW Contributor | 9/26/2018, 11:50 a.m.
“Diaspora” is a term originally coined as a reference to the...

“Diaspora” is a term originally coined as a reference to the

descendents of Israel scattered throughout the globe, then applied to

other specific ethnic populations. The phrase “African Diaspora”

became fashionable towards the end of the 20th century, and gained

popularity with the advent of the millennium.

For Michael Washington Brown (https://michaelwashingtonbrown.com/),

the circumstances of his birth and his lineage compelled him to

embrace this idea of a collective of those “…of African origin living

outside the continent (defined by the African Union)…” Born in England

of Barbadian (his mother) and Jamaican (his father) heritage, his

decision to become an actor led to his quest to “tell stories that

were not being told.”

The result is his one-man show, titled provocatively “Black.” In it,

he assumes four different personas--African, English, Jamaican, and

American--to tell their own personal, alternately similar and

contrasting perspectives of living Black (informed by Brown’s own,

personal experiences). Currently on view at Melrose Avenue's Zephyr

Theatre, the production comes Los Angeles after successful runs in

Chicago, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Much of the material in this 90-minute performance has been covered

before, including commentary on the Willie Lynch manifesto, the self

destructive penchant of the “hip hop” generation to refer to each

other as “bches, h*oes, and niers, and the on going divide between

light- and dark-skinned elements of the race.

The core of the show seems to be the folly of lumping all of these

hundreds of millions of descendents of the Dark Continent scattered

across the world into one neat, convenient cluster. Even the most

casual observer of the ongoing ethnic (and racial) melodrama within

this particular city knows about the schism, cultural, political, and

otherwise between those who reside east of La Brea and others who

inhabit West L.A. and environs along the coast.

The divide only increases when the factors of geographic and point of

origin are brought into the mix. As Brown notes:

“…not all of us are African-American, and we don’t all share the same

experience.”

As presented at the Zephyr, this is a bare bones affair in which Brown

utilizes a chair, incidental music, and projected graphics to drive

his point home. He is a compelling performer but it is occasionally

difficult to hear the nuances of the various accents as he slips

between the four separate guises.

“Black” is being presented every Sunday at 7 p.m. through Oct. 14 at

the Zephyr Theatre (http://www.zephyrtheatre.com/), 7456 Melrose Ave.

Tickets are $12.50.