Wanda Sykes is a comedian, actor and writer with both African American and Caucasian racial ancestry. In her 2009 stand-up show, I’ma Be Me, she performs an excellent bit on African American race identity management where she draws upon an experience where her Mother tells her to stop dancing. Click here to view the bit.
Why is her Mother so concerned about her dancing?The bit concludes with Mom’s answer, “White people are looking at you!”
On January 27, 2014 the television series, Come Dine With Me Canada aired an episode filmed in and starring participants from Newfoundland. I didn’t see it, but if the evening and post-evening’s Twitter activities @comedinewithmeC and #cdwmc are any measure, many Newfoundlanders did.Jump to the following morning -- local radio call-in shows and mid-morning coffee breaks are abuzz, further confirming the relevance of the episode to Newfoundlanders across the country. Apparently, some of the participants (may have), without shame, (mis)represented Newfoundland provincial identity. The prospect of this has many a Newfoundlander concerned. Come whine with me Newfoundland? Sure b’y, go on den.
Actually, I’m not going to whine. I do not believe any Newfoundlander should take it upon themselves to advise another Newfoundlander how to behave, speak or ‘represent’ on the national stage. And no Newfoundlander should be made to feel, or take it upon themselves to feel, they are a walking, talking billboard for NL Tourism.I wonder if the burden of provincial identity management is one that all participants of Come Dine With Me Canada (Alberta, Ontario, etc.) carry? I suspect not.
Newfoundlanders everywhere: do what you do! Speak how you speak! Find humorous whatever it is that brings laughter to you! And if that joy is found in something new, or an old tradition you’ve created or adopted from your ancestral homeland(s), stop caring that “Canadians are looking at you!”Whether you’re keeping time with an ugly stick, or heading out to catch a recital of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra – you’re a Newfoundlander and dining with Canada should never change that.