The Power of Creating Your Own Story

I found Alien/Nation In Dahomey very interesting because it set the foundation for Black people to have control over telling their own stories, something that has just become a major topic in recent years. During the early 20th century, Black people usually were only represented in theatre through minstrelsy, which was a hugely dehumanizing depiction of Black people and racial stereotypes. However, this was one of the first major musicals to feature an all-black cast that actually showed them having power, intelligence, and the ability to rise up against their European oppressors. For example, the musical’s African imagery competes with conventional representations of an ‘uncivilized’ frontier and threatens to revise how the continent is traditionally thought to be: hopeless and idiotic. An interesting point about this is that the musical did not exclusively focus on African Americans and their legacy in America. Instead, it implemented more of a Pan-African message and urged Black people to unite, as shown by the musical playing several songs that emphasize the notions of romance, wealth, inheritance, and genealogical reclamation. Another example of this is the musical’s assertion that all ‘dahkeys’ are linked to a royal line and aim to live extravagantly in their ancestral castle (265). This is significant because it highlights the immense cultural diversity of Africa and the importance of Black history before slavery. Also, it showed that the British Empire was not invincible, and its authority could be challenged. Ultimately, knowing their history and coming together as one led to them gaining the confidence to overcome their colonial empires, fading into a new era of black self-rule. All in all, the show not only reinforced the beautiful and creative artistic capabilities Black people possess, but also highlighted the importance of recognizing the humanity and dignity of Black people by showing they are more powerful than what society tells them they are.

One Reply to “The Power of Creating Your Own Story”

  1. There is power in having ownership over your story. The narrative that exists out there represents how other people perceive you. That is why they worked so hard to take over Douglass; narrative and silence him. In other cases, reclaiming things, sayings, and pieces that are historically negative and now socially owned.

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