Phillips Addresses Racial Perceptions, American Idealism
Greg Slisz recently covered our Joseph Phillips event for the Wabash College website, and touched on some of the interesting ideas about identity politics that Phillips addressed.
“I would show up at the casting director’s office and they wanted to know, ‘Can you do Eddie Murphy? Can you rap or breakdance?’ No I can’t rap or breakdance, I’ve been in acting school studying Shakespeare!” Phillips stated, prompting a wave of laughter from the audience.
Even as a young actor, Phillips was unable to shake the fact he sounded white. A typical audition, he described, would go well, but often be accompanied by casting director asking, “Joseph, can you do it again, but this time try to sound more black.”
However, this frustration did not end once his career began to transition into writing and politics. “The accusation changed. I was no longer talking like a white boy, I was now thinking like a white boy,” said Phillips.
“To no longer have the excuse of being a child, to then point out that the substance of what you think is problematic, and somehow makes you inauthentic, is a problem. I think it’s constipating. I think it’s limiting. It confines black people into a very limited definition of who we are and who we can be.”
Joseph Phillips event was very well-attended, and enjoyed by all. Be sure to come out to our next event, Dr. Douglas Farrow, who will speak on his book, Nation of Bastards.