As a child, Bill Posley thought of himself as both white and black. However, he was told repeatedly that his biracial identity was invalid, such as when his teacher told him he couldn’t check both the “black” and “white” bubbles for race on a standardized test; he had to fill in just the black one.
Posley, who currently writes for CBS sitcom The Neighborhood, is a multifaceted performer with a gift for delivering serious messages wrapped in comedy. He tackles his quest to understand his own identity in his new one-man play, The Day I Became Black. When you’re biracial, he says, “you find yourself battling to maintain an identity that makes sense to you but the world is kind of forcing their identity on you.”
We spoke to him about his new play, his writing process, and how radical empathy can change the world.
On Friday, February 8th, the NY Indie Theater Festival kicked off its third season with a screening of Theresa Rebeck’s Poor Behavior. Continue reading
Jenny lived across the street and down three houses. Precocious, with white blonde hair in a bowl cut and a tendency to run around the neighborhood in her swimsuit, she was the first friend I had when we moved in.
My father was a fundamentalist evangelist and along with my mother, we had been traveling around the country in our big 1983 burgundy Buick, state to state, church to church, revivals, tent meetings and summer camps for the last seven and a half years. After years of pleading from my mother for a home of our own and empty promises from my father, he had finally found a church to pastor and we were going to “settle down.” The church was in a Phoenix suburb and had a small, struggling congregation that needed Jesus as much as they needed jobs and money to pay bills that were due last month. With little more than a pittance, a rental house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a front and backyard, as well as the long promised formal dining room, was found for us fifteen miles away in a largely Mormon part of town. As a homeschooled, only child whose friendships came on visiting preacher’s kid status and the backseat of the Buick that was the most permanent personal space I had, the move to a house in a neighborhood with an elementary school around the corner was new, exciting and often a culture shock.
Jenny’s family was what my mother called “rough around the edges”, but Jenny was friendly and curious and no cold shoulder from my mother seemed to discourage her interest in me. We walked the two blocks to school together in the mornings and rode our banana seat bikes around the neighborhood in the afternoons. Roughly the same age and in the same class at school, the thing that really cemented our friendship was a love of Barbie dolls. Barbie, Ken and her friends were my favorite, though they were generally given different monikers and often after various pastor’s wives or children I had liked best; small and compact, they were easy to pack up and play with in the backseat of the car. Barbie’s long hair, big breasts, tiny waist, plenty of dresses made out of my father’s old ties and tiny plastic high heels made her the perfect wife, mother and lover of Jesus in all the scenarios that I placed her. I was never aware that Barbie had a dream house or career aspirations. My Barbie had been baptized in the bathroom sink in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of her sins and cooked dinner for her family before going to church three times a week. Jenny’s Barbie dolls moved in different circles; they wore mini skirts, some cut their hair off and drove Corvettes. Regardless of our respective Barbie’s differences, Jenny and I loved to bring our haul together and spent countless hours in our imaginary worlds with them. Continue reading
Park and Ride and I. January 26th. Ottawa. This is how we meet.
I park my car and then grab my overstuffed knapsack that rests on the seat beside me that holds various snacks and workout clothes. I turn and reach behind me, and blindly grapple to locate my brown leather purse that I flung on the floor of the backseat. My second bag weighs more than any Army Cadet has ever had to carry during a march.
“Ah! There you are!” I say to no one in particular. Locating both bags, I push my car door open as white snow whips against my face feeling like hundreds of pin pricks against my cheeks. The snow enters my Honda civic and dances around inside. With that, I stick my foot out. And that’s where we meet.
Snowbank and I; SNOWBANK 1, ME 0.
Snow worms wiggle between my hiking boot and ankle and then, smoothly shimmy their way down to my heel. When my feet hit the pavement, the cold ice crunches against my sock and bottom of my boot until it is pulverized into a puddle. And now, I have a puddle at the bottom of my boot. Continue reading
People of Earth may be TBS’s strangest, if not funniest, new show. Reporter Ozzie Graham, played by Wyatt Cenac, interviews a support group for alien abductees (they prefer the term “experiencers”) in Beacon, NY, a hotbed of alien activity. Though a skeptic, within the first episode he comes to learn and even believe that he may be one of them. Wildly absurd humor and an all-star cast will surely delight audiences.
Creator David Jenkins joined the cast yesterday, October 7, at New York Comic Con, to discuss the stories and inspiration behind People of Earth.
“[The show] really doesn’t have a format, so every episode that we wrote it felt like we were trying to reinvent the show or at least find it in a new way,” Jenkins said.
Though the show is a sci-fi comedy, Jenkins said that he was most interested in exploring the characters that populate his zany universe. “The episodes that I like the best tend to focus on a personal life, then what’s happening in the group, then there’s a sci-fi story that seems to be happening around it but it’s not the focus on the actual episode. You’re still in that world. It’s a comedy that has really interesting sci-fi things around it.”
People of Earth will premiere October 31 on TBS.
Pattie Boyd’s Greatest Hits
by Matt Russell
He buys you a drink and says his name is Hutch and you think there are worse things to be named after than a song. Like a seventies TV character or piece of furniture.
“Layla,” you say, and shake his clammy hand.
“Layla, Layla,” he says, rolling your name around his mouth like a toothpick. And he’s still squeezing your hand when he says, “Like the song, right?”
You roll your eyes and slide your hand from his grip.
“Right,” you say. “Like the song.”
“Right, right. Clapton. It’s about banging George Harrison’s wife or something, right?” Continue reading
Happy Day of the Dead. On an unrelated note, since it’s not the same holiday, we would like to announce our Halloween contest winner. We loved all our finalists for the Halloween contest and this was a very hard decision to make. But we made it. Because we had so many great submissions, we have decided that in addition to our first prize, which is a book and a $25 gift card, we will also be awarding the first runner up a book in the genre of their choosing.
The second runner up is: Mureall Hébert for her flash pieces “The Side of the Road” and “Why I Had to Bite You” Congratulations Mureall, you’ve won a book in the genre of your choice!
The first runner up is: J. J. Steinfeld for “The Nefarious: A Tale of a Notorious Halloween Dance”
Congratulations J.J., you also get a book in the genre of your choice!
Our first place winner of the book and $25 gift card is Michael Puican for his poem “Halloween”
Congratulations everyone and good job to all of our finalists.