As protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota spread to Britain, Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic, put out a tweet: “Racism is bolstered by the stories we tell.” Kwei-Armah, who spent seven years at Baltimore’s Center Stage before returning to London in 2018, is among the cultural leaders in the UK speaking up about the role and responsibility of the arts in relation to systemic racism in the world at large. “We learn about our community not necessarily through integration alone but through stories,” he says. “It’s why we go to the theatre and it’s why state-of-the-nation plays are so important. We have to be magnificently careful about any stereotypes we create.” Theatre, he thinks, has been complicit in turning the “problematic black male” into an archetype. “I challenge people to look at plays of the last 20 years that deal with black and brown people where the black male is not by default a deficient lover, father or partner.” This stereotype has been used against the black community, he says, citing the recent case of Amy Cooper, the white woman from New York who reported a black man in Central Park for allegedly threatening… Read full this story
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