Interesting conversation between August Wilson and Bill Moyers from 1988 (thanks Bev Smith for the link); Wilson’s name is one that’s come up a number of times on S&A. His controversial I Want A Black Director op-ed from about 20 years ago immediately comes to mind. I think I’ve shared that here two or three times, given the subject matter and our interests.

The conversation below centers primarily on this thing we call blackness; what it means, how to define it, etc. Long time readers of S&A will know that we’ve tackled the matter several times, and will likely continue to.

From the few essays I’ve read by Wilson, and interviews I’ve watched with the man on the issue of blackness, I don’t entirely agree with his take, which I think is too rigid; I long decided for myself that it’s simply just not definable, and any attempt to do so will be a frustrating, fruitless endeavor, since we can’t universally agree on what that is. Our experiences (the experiences of black people all over the world) are far too varied to validate the notion of some singular, “identifiable blackness.”

I’m not implying that we shouldn’t wrestle with the question, especially as artist and cultural critics… I do constantly; but not necessarily with the goal being to reach a definite answer, because I just don’t think there is one; at least not a universal one. Maybe it’s a personal, individual thing.

However, I’ve always enjoyed listening to Wilson, and greatly appreciate his work.

Of most interest in the clip is his derision of The Cosby Show; I remember one of Sergio’s previous post in which he also derided the series, but not quite for the same reasons that Wilson does. While Sergio found it “bland” and “dull” as a series, Wilson just didn’t think it represented “blackness.”

But the whole 15-minute clip is worth a viewing, as it touches on topics that frequently arise here on S&A.