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Livre à lire : Dutchman by Leroi jones

Livre à lire : Dutchman by Leroi jones

Dutchman is a two-scene play that was written by Amiri Baraka; also known as Leroi johns. the story starts with a classic start, a description of the scene. Time is summer, place is a train and trains station, characters are Clay and Lula along with other passengers who will show up in the second scene. Clay is an African American who seems to be a well-known type for Lula, an American (unhyphenated as in White American, or Irish American, etc.). This latter seems to be a manipulative white woman who like to lie a lot. my guess is that, in the play, Leroi criticizes African Americans who are trying to embrace the culture of the white people. To Lola, they are a well-known type. She does not know Clay, but she knows what he is up to, judging him by his dress (wearing a suit), she might have encountered different “types” of Africans that she knows the characters of each and every one of them.

“My hair is turning gray. A gray hair for each year and type I’ve come through”

She is in a way controlling him as she knows what he is up to, to her he is an open book. For instance when she incites him to invite her to a party, that she knows he is going to without being told so, she asked him to say precisely “Lula, Lula why don’t you go to this party with me tonight?” to which he would answer “Lula, why don’t you go to this party with me tonight, huh?”. I think that “Huh” is very African, it’s one of the utterances that are used more often in the interrogation form of a sentence within the African American community. To which Lula with respond that he’d have to repeat her exact line with “Lula” repeated twice and with no “huh”

She made fun of his suit and tie, wondering why he would be wearing those stuff that reflects a culture that is not his, as his people never “burned witches nor protested the price of tea.”

In the second scene Lula gets a little crazy and starts to play with his mind further at some point she would even start dancing and inciting him to dance too while there are other people who got on the train. She keeps inciting him on dancing as she assures him what he is trying to be. She even called him a dirty white. 

Clay dies by getting stabbed twice by Lula, who scrabbles something on her note after what she did.

Another black man gets on the train and Lula approaches him too almost like what she did to Clay, which to me signifies the indifference of the white towards the Africans and their refusal of the integration of the black community.

While reading this short play by Leroi Johns, it got me thinking of what he is trying to convey. He seems to express that you should appreciate and embrace your culture and your identity. Being Moroccan is not only having the citizenship. It’s about the community you are part of, the people you are surrounded with, the values you are absorbing. To be heavily effected -not inspired- by other cultures and their achievements is fatal to a nation and its people. It leads to being submerged into an outsider’s lifestyle and trying so hard to push it to fit your context, which cannot stand that culture. Being a Moroccan means to know and appreciate your history, to values your identity and work on enhancing it. If we want this nation to advance and flourish, we should put our identity under the spotlight.

Morad El Bahloul

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