Ein Stück von Jean Genet verbieten zu wollen, ist wie – sich selbst ausladen zu wollen

Es sagt menschgemäß viel aus, wenn die Forderung erhoben wird, ein Stück von Jean Genet abzusetzen, über die Lage der Menschen, die in Österreich leben, die keine angenehme ist, denn zu oft müssen sie das Wort „Neger“ hören, das alles andere als freundlich intoniert und gemeint ist, zu sehr ist das Klima immer noch vergiftet, die Luft angereichert mit Vorurteilen, mit Diffamierungen, mit Abfälligkeiten, diese Menschen bekommen in diesem Land eine Luft, die nicht zu atmen ist, sondern zum Ersticken …

Und so ist es verstehbar aber nicht zu akzeptieren, wenn die Forderung erhoben wird, ein Stück nicht zu spielen, das den Titel „Die Neger“ …

Wiener Festwochen Black Panthers Jean GenetAber wer hier tatsächlich der Beleidigte ist, wer hier tatsächlich der Diffamierte ist, wer hier tatsächlich der Ignorierte ist, wer hier tatsächlich der Erniedrigte ist, das ist Jean Genet, wieder einmal Jean Genet.

Er wird tatsächlich beleidigt und ignoriert und erniedrigt von dem Regisseur, weil dieser sogenannte weiße Schauspieler und sogenannte weiße Schauspielerinnen spielen läßt, während Jean Genet sich immer ausdrücklich dagegen verwahrte, daß sogenannte Weiße die von ihm geschaffenen Figuren dieser Groteske spielen.

Er wird aber auch tatsächlich beleidigt und tatsächlich diffamiert von jenen Menschen, die nun die Absetzung seines Stückes fordern, weil sie erstens sein Stück ignorieren, zweitens seine Clownerie auf einen Titel erniedrigend reduzieren, drittens sein Leben ausblenden und viertens dazu noch wegwischen, für wen er durch die USA reiste, auf welche Seite er sich stellte, zu einer Zeit, als kaum wer sich auf diese Seite stellen wollte, nicht einmal sogenannte Progressive mit einer rosa Hautfarbe …

„In der Folge konnte ich mich nur den farbigen Unterdrückten anschließen, die gegen die Weißen revoltierten. Gegen alle Weißen. Ich bin vielleicht ein Schwarzer, der weiße oder rosa Hautfarbe hat.“ („Ich erlaube mir die Revolte“, Hubert Fichte und Jean Genet, „Die Zeit“, 13. Februar 1976)

Es wäre respektvoll und gerade ihm gegenüber mehr als angemessen, wenn Jean Genet nicht weiter beleidigt und diffamiert und ignoriert werden würde, weder von dem Regisseur, der seinen Willen gröblichst mißachtet, noch von den Menschen, die ein Stück von ihm nicht aufgeführt sehen wollen, und vielleicht überzeugt alle daran Beteiligten der Bericht von Angela Davis über ihre Begegnung mit Jean Genet in den USA, über das Engagement von ihm, als kaum sogenannte Weiße sich engagieren wollten, Jean Genet nicht weiter zu …

When Jean Genet came to the USA in spring 1970, although it was our first meeting with him, there were many of us Black Americans who already considered him an ally because of his play The Blacks that had showed in New York a few years before. The Black Panther Party invited Genet so he could help them, holding conferences in different universities over the USA. It was a major critical stage of the black of struggle in the USA. I was in charge of translating his speeches, for instance at UCLA where I was teaching philosophy. A party was arranged for him in the house of filmmaker Dalton Trumbo in Hollywood: many stars showed up and it helped raise funds to pay the imprisoned Panthers‘ lawyers. David Hilliard, a member of the Black Panther Party, largely mentioned in Prisoner of Love, told me Genet had arrived with worn out clothes and was asked to get a bit dressed up. He was taken to a San Francisco shop run by a Black man so moved that Genet came to the USA to help the Panthers, he offered him a jacket, a pair of trousers and a shirt. I remember him, so happy to wear these gifts, and me, so excited to meet him. I knew his writings, he was a mythical character to me but, face to face with him, I had an almost motherly feeling. He was like a little boy, very kind and laughing a lot . . .
At the time he gave his speeches, the situation was quite complicated: there were not many White folks willing to support an organization very wrongly described as a „terrorist“ one, made up of people willing to kill policemen, etc. At the time, I was a member of this movement and had lost my job as a teacher in UCLA but I quashed the decision on appeal and was reintegrated. It was very difficult to succeed in spreading out the movement and find support for Black political prisoners. On the campus, teachers and students alike would often demonstrate against the war in Vietnam. For instance, there had been a demonstration against Nixon’s policy in Vietnam with ten to fifteen thousand persons; nevertheless, two weeks later, when we tried to arrange another demonstration to obtain the release of Bobby Seale, Erika Huggins and the „Soledad Brothers“ ( George Jackson, John Clutchette, Fleeta Drumgo) who were in jail, we only managed to gather two hundred persons, most of them Blacks. We just didn’t succeed in raising a great multiracial movement and thought Genet, thanks to his fame, could help us reach White progressives.
When we advertised for his conference, the posters did not mention that Genet would talk about the Black Panthers. We just said he would speak and a huge crowd came to hear him because he was Jean Genet, the great writer. He started saying he would talk about the Black Panthers and made a very moving appeal – a very theoretically advanced one, I’d say – about how to fight racism. Genet had made some proposals twenty years before that we just started to develop; for instance the White participation in the struggle against racism. After a quarter of an hour, many members of the audience started to get upset and to whisper and, suddenly, someone even interrupted Genet asking him to speak, at last, of himself and his work! Genet answered: „No, I’m not here to talk about literature or my books. I came to defend the Black Panther Party.“
Then, something deeply shocking to me occurred: half of the audience progressively left the place. They didn’t want to hear about the BPP. For us, it was a real lesson. We could judge how much work had to be done to generate a real movement against racism. Many teachers I was familiar with were unable to attend such debates because, in a way, they felt Genet was accusing them of collusion. However, those who did stay were giving us something invaluable. Genet knew how to speak his heart without pity or condescension. Now, we have learned how not to mistake solidarity feelings for feelings of pity among the representatives of the ruling culture. Genet, he already knew how to distinguish them. In his Yale speech, on the Mayday Speech day, he even goes so far as to advocate the development of a „tactfulness of the heart“ when dealing with Black folks. He also says that Blacks had silently been observing Whites for centuries and had learned a lot about them and their cultural background. And Whites did not even realize they were being observed. What we develop nowadays in our lectures means the same: White folks have got to go to Black school; they have to learn something from them. From Black folks but also Indians, Chicanos and the whole multicultural U.S. population.
One last important point: it was Genet who heightened the Black Panther Party awareness to the Homosexual Rights issue. David Hilliard told me that when they were traveling together from state to state, from one university to another, some members of the Party were using very rude and homophobic words to insult Nixon or Mitchell. Genet was hurt by these words and told them they should not use such vocabulary. One night, he even showed up at the hotel – there used to be four or five men per room during these trips – dressed in a sort of pink negligee, and a cigar in his mouth. Well, they all thought Genet was going crazy! He had just wanted to bring about a discussion on the similarities between the struggle against racism and the struggle against homophobia. After these trips in 1970, David Hilliard and his mates largely spoke of the matter with Huey Newton (the BPP’s president, in jail at the time) and later published soon after an important article in the BPP’s newspaper saying: „Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (Genet also had spoke about women’s liberation during his stay – Angela’s note), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say: ‚whatever your insecurities are‘ because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with. [ . . . ] Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their particular kind of oppression. [ . . . ] And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society. [ . . . ]“

Ein Gedanke zu „Ein Stück von Jean Genet verbieten zu wollen, ist wie – sich selbst ausladen zu wollen

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