Acting _____ enough (fill in the blank)

The comedian, Chris Rock, has made a movie, apparently, whose title I don’t know. Sorry. But in an interview he spoke of the challenge he faces in all his work—that of staying Black enough. He pointed out that his humor mostly has themes dealing with race relations and African-American life. He said that actors like Tom Hanks do not have to be concerned with being White enough.
I remember when my first book came out, Mom Can’t See Me, 1990—with two starred reviews and nothing but exceptionally good reviews. Until there was one exception, a review from the NFB, the National Federation of the Blind. This book that looked at daily life of a blind mother of two, told from the pov of her nine-year-old daughter was panned by the NFB. I don’t remember the specifics, except that I’d “sold out,” so-to-speak. The overall message of a blind mother pulling off 90% of the parenting, taking tap dance, going to movies and her kids’ sports games, canoeing, walking a rope course, was criticized for showing a few mistakes—using hair spray instead of spray starch for ironing. That the mother did the ironing, though blind, seemed to be overlooked. I also had my daughter Leslie say in the book, something like, “Mom might make more mistakes than other mothers, but mostly she does well.” (I think the language was more eloquent, but that was the gist).
So unlike Rock, who faces criticism if he’s not Black enough, I am criticized if I act too blind. It’s a pressure that I didn’t articulate until I heard Chris Rock address. Thanks, Chris.

About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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