Closing Time | Four women for Four women

2020 is het jaar van 75 jaar vrijheid. Het lijkt ons gepast dat in het juiste perspectief te zetten: dat het niet nog eens 75 jaar moet duren voordat uit vooroordeel geboren stereotypes alleen nog bezongen worden ter herinnering aan een verleden.

“Four Women”, geschreven door Nina Simone, wordt hier uitgevoerd door (v.l.n.r.) Lizz Wright, Lisa Simone (de dochter van…), Angélique Kidjo en Dianne Reeves.

We pakken de Wikipedia er even bij om dit lied te duiden: “Four Women” tells the story of four different African American women. Each of the four characters represents an African-American stereotype in society. We nemen de vier coupletten door….

Angélique Kidjo sings about Aunt Sarah” a character who represents African-American enslavement. Nina Simone’s description of the woman emphasizes the strong and resilient aspects of her race, “strong enough to take the pain” as well as the long-term suffering her race has had to endure, “inflicted again and again”.

My skin is black, My arms are long
My hair is woolly, My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain, inflicted again and again
What do they call me, My name is Aunt Sarah
My name is Aunt Sarah
Aunt Sarah is my name

Lizz Wright (in mei voor 3 concerten in Nederland) sings about Saffronia, a woman of mixed race (“my skin is yellow”) forced to live “between two worlds”. She is portrayed as an oppressed woman and her story is once again used to highlight the suffering of the black race at the hands of white people in positions of power (“My father was rich and white/He forced my mother late one night”).

My skin is yellow, My hair is long
Between two worlds, I do belong
My father was rich and white, He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me, My name is Saffronia
My name is Saffronia
Saffronia is my name

Lisa Simone sings about ‘Sweet Thing’, a prostitute referred to as “Sweet Thing”. She finds acceptance with both black and white people, not only because “my hair is fine”, but also because she provides sexual gratification.

My skin is tan, My hair is fine
My hips invite you, my mouth like wine
Whose little girl am I? Anyone who has money to buy
What do they call me, My name is Sweet Thing
Sweet Thing is my name

Dianne Reeves sings about ‘Peaches’, very tough, embittered by the generations of oppression and suffering endured by her people and finally unveils the woman’s name after a dramatic finale during which she screams, “My name is Peaches!”

My skin is brown, my manner is tough
I’ll kill the first mother I see, my life has been rough
I’m awfully bitter these days, because my parents were slaves
What do they call me? My name is…
Peaches

2020 is het jaar van 75 jaar vrijheid. Moet het een volgende 75 jaren duren voordat luisteraars het lied aanhoren en zich dan niet meer kunnen voorstellen hoe het toch mogelijk was dat mensen wel uit slavernij bevrijd waren, maar gevangen werden in discriminerende stereotypen?

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