Nina Rapi on Race, Gender and Class.
RACE: My friend V.M.J. going to India and not being recognized/’seen’, in certain circles, as the British African and well known writer that she is. As a result she was harassed for entering ‘privileged’ spaces because she was taken for an untouchable.
Racism, negating/distorting reality to surreal levels, is so deeply rooted in the fear of the Other that we either don’t see them or we project on to them any darkness we might contain within and consequently reject them for that reason, fear of the unknown self basically. We therefore need to embrace the Other both within and outside us, from a very early age through education, art, politics. Racism is complex and operates on many levels. It is interesting that in Greek ‘racism’ applies not only to race but any form of discrimination.
GENDER: Having a significant fight with my brother when I was a child. He was clearly in the wrong but my mother defended him with the excuse ‘he is only a boy’. That left me with a deep sense of injustice that urged me to resist against prejudice and inequality from a very early age.
As an adult, I cannot separate gender from sexuality.
CLASS: One of my students telling me recently she never felt a sense of entitlement as a playwright because she thought the theatre was not for her, a working class woman from the provinces.
Theatre, both in the UK and in Greece, is indeed dominated by middle and upper class people who feel a natural sense of entitlement due to their privileged position and often exclude the Other without a second thought, almost automatically negating or devaluing them. It takes a very aware person to realize this process and change it. Or indeed continuous struggle from those who are negated or devalued. Thankfully, there are always allies.