Each month, write a new collection.
Klee The ClownI can’t look at the Clown and see a clown. Instead, I see a black woman putting on the mask of a white woman. The white mask seems sly, knowing, pointed nose slightly lifted in arrogance. The black face seems static, waiting, accepting the white covering without welcoming it, as a punishment she knew was coming. I imagine she has roiling thoughts beneath that still exterior, wanting to be herself, like Claudia Rankine to be honest about how pinched and chained she will feel when the mask swallows her up. I think she wants to say white people have, as I’ve said about Trump, sucked all the air out of the room. What if Klee had chosen the opposite colors for the face and the mask? What if I, I white person, chose to put on a black mask. First, I could choose, not be forced to hide beneath that mask. Second, I’d know I was about to have a “black like me” experience, to be pushed back, however subtly, to be not-chosen, not-assumed, not-welcomed except when the bean counters check for diversity. My black mask would have a smile because it must, not because that’s how she or I really felt. I imagine that neither a clown versus its underlying person or the people and masks I have envisioned feels identical with the mask’s implication. That’s not possible, it’s why a mask is needed to begin with. It masks what you really think and feel. The blank slate of he underlying face is a second mask, also hiding pain and misery, or why choose to be a clown?L