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Saturday, December 31, 2016


Rather than saying good riddance to 2016 or bemoaning 2017, instead, here is some great news as we close 2016 and enter the New Year…
The Smiling Brown: Gente de Bronce – People Color of the Earth play is set for Sunday, March 12th 2017, from 2:30pm- 5pm in the ILC 141 at the University of Arizona during the Tucson Festival of Books.
The play will be a combination of live testimonios, audio, video and actos, poetry and music, and most importantly, a dialogue with the audience. At the moment, it is envisioned as a 90-120-minute play. March 12 will be a preview that will end up in Los Angeles for its premiere, perhaps in the fall or shortly thereafter. After the play, we will have extended discussion as to how to improve it. Also, as envisioned, it will be able to be performed anywhere around the country, with localized testimonios.
As part of this project and play, a CD will also be created of a combination of spoken word, hip-hop, song, poetry etc. (See contact info below).


The Smiling Brown Project uniquely examines a taboo topic regarding the role of color and specifically, light-skin color preference in the Mexican/Mexican American//Central American and Andean communities of the United States. But unlike the manner in which this issue is treated in this country, this play treats the issue of color - not through a black-white paradigm per se, which is the norm, but rather - primarily in relationship to Indigeneity. That is, it examines the issue not simply as "colorism," but rather, as part of the historic process of de-Indigenization (and its religious roots) within these communities. However, because these peoples live in this country, it also does not shy away from the historic issues related to race and color in this country, including Afro-Indigenous identity and denial of that identity. Additionally, a number of testimonios are from peoples of other cultures as this is a worldwide phenomenon. For a more in-depth background article, go to:…/smiling-brown-gente-de-bron…

The Project

The Smiling Brown project has a number of components: a book, a play, testimonios, huehuetlahtolli (ancient guidances) music, poetry, spoken word, hip-hop and artwork, and also a research project. All are related and all flow into each other. This here is a summary of the play, which has a format akin to the Vagina Monologues, though with an emphasis on testimonios and dialogues.

The Play

The play’s primary emphasis is peoples’ earliest memories of when they became aware of their skin color and became aware of the significance attached to their color. While most such memories are negative and for some, painful and even traumatic even to this day, the project and play also seek to highlight the memories of when people became aware that there was never anything wrong with them in the first place. In fact, it also seeks to highlight stories of how children were raised right.

Over the past generation, since at least the 1960s, this topic has been dealt with at an external level, which initially gave rise to the era of "Brown Power" along with the idea of "Brown is Beautiful." This is true especially among writers, poets, artists and musicians. This was in response to the racism and hostility aimed at these communities, first in Mexico/Central America and its ingrained anti-Indigenous attitudes (and points south) and later, here in the United States with its extreme anti-Mexican and anti-Indigenous attitudes. However, for this project, the emphasis is internal, because despite that [short-lived] era, the mass media, and Spanish-language television in particular, did not do away with that light-skin preference. In fact, those issues remain very real today and among adults, many continue to be subjected to racial profiling by these country’s institutions. And while those issues continue to be addressed publicly, they have not been similarly addressed internally... that is, within these cultures and among those closest to us and within the home, which includes family, loved ones, relatives, neighbors and schoolmates. This is why the topic is taboo, because this happens among those closest to us. The idea here is to examine how these attitudes continue to be replicated and transmitted, but even more importantly, to hopefully change those attitudes which have both, colonial roots, and in reality, without sugar-coating it, white supremacy.

Some 100 testimonios have been gathered thus far. The objective is to get 200 total within the next year (2017). If you would like to submit a testimonio, we are looking for 300-1200 words written, recorded or videotaped. The testimonios can be in the form of vignettes, a story, a song, poetry, hip-hop, etc. Also, if you are interested send to (or for more info):

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