I embarked on the Tar baby journey, thinking that because I am a black woman I would be left unscathed and could revel with glee as the “others” in the room squirmed from the confronting content. My stance truly was along the lines of “they’re gonn learn today!” Instead what I experienced was a one woman tornado that grabbed everyone from the start in its jaws, swirled us around with incredible energy force, and deposited us on the other side where nothing, our thoughts, emotions, perceptions about racism would ever be the same again.
Tar baby is a participatory odyssey during which the audience gets a glimpse of how it feels to be the giver and the receiver of racial prejudice. Cleverly woven together is an account of the slave trade, how our ancestors were exploited to feed the greed of those who declared themselves superior, and the resultant loss of identity experienced by many several generations later. The portrayal of a young Birch, unwittingly buying into the stereotype of “being the black kid “in school particularly resonated with some of us in the audience. With adept skill Birch tells her story, asking questions, provoking thought and forcing all of us look at our own prejudices and how we perpetuate racism by complicity doing and or saying nothing in the face of racial injustice or injury.
At the end we are left looking at a woman, who has shared of herself, and in the process challenged all of us to look closer at ourselves. This show is indeed more than about black versus white, it is a petition to accept humanity as human, regardless of the things that differentiate us and a reminder to check ourselves when we forget.
This post was a guest review by Sierra Zion.
Sierra Zion is a youngish woman native to the Shona peoples of Zimbabwe and has made Auckland her home. She is invested in several artistic pursuits including written expression, and on stage antics.