May 22, 2023

Adjoa Andoh

Adjoa Andoh

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I didn’t watch King Charles III’s coronation because, with its much-trailed emphasis on “diversity,” I knew it wasn’t really aimed at me but at the likes of Adjoa Andoh, the black actress best known for anachronistically playing Lady Danbury on the dire Netflix fancy-dress soap opera Bridgerton, to whom my country now so clearly belongs.

Acting as a TV pundit, Andoh perceptively spotted that, when waving regally from the Buckingham Palace balcony, none of the Royal Family looked especially like they really belonged in Wakanda, not Windsor: “We have gone from the rich diversity of the [preceding ceremony in Westminster] Abbey to a terribly white balcony. I am very struck by that.”

Andoh’s comments prompted more viewer complaints than anything else on British TV this year, even Bridgerton and that bizarre Channel 4 thing where adults deliberately expose their genitalia to schoolchildren yet somehow don’t get arrested for it. The furor led her to quickly apologize: “I didn’t mean to upset anybody,” she pleaded. To be honest, I actually believe her—because even a cursory examination of Andoh’s previous opinions on racial and identity-based issues reveal her to inhabit a hermetic left-wing bubble in which such statements receive no discernible pushback whatsoever, no matter how egregiously stupid and self-contradictory they may be.

“Far from universalizing Shakespeare, whenever she reads him, all Andoh seems to see in his characters are mirrors.”

All the World’s a Stage, and We Are Merely Victims
Andoh is of mixed white English and black Ghanaian origin, her journalist father having fled to Britain following a crackdown on the press by the black-led postcolonial government in his homeland. Being the only black girl in the all-white village where her parents settled, she seems to have been teased and never to have gotten over the fact.

Speaking on a podcast prior to the coronation, Lady Danbury explained how it was not her job simply to say other people’s words out loud without falling over or bumping into any furniture, but to challenge viewers’ preexisting racial preconceptions “through a corset and a stately pile”—i.e., to produce leftist agitprop, not genuine art.

Apparently, all Britain’s “great discoveries” in science and culture were funded by the slave trade, meaning, in a roundabout way, everything this once-white nation had ever achieved was ultimately down to black people like her—or that was how I understood her words. According to Andoh herself, “We need to lose those [racial] lenses that make us not see the person [behind their skin color] and that’s really what I’m interested in [in] all the work I do.” And that is why she pointed at the Royal Family and said they were too white; because she never, ever, sees skin color.

Despite telling the podcast host she wasn’t interested in race, Andoh then demanded Britain’s entire national curriculum be overhauled to tell children how white people’s wealth was based on the historical exploitation of black slaves—yet was not pulled up on this blatant inconsistency.

Upstart Crow
Andoh, who sometimes plays white men as well as white women, perhaps because gender is just a racist white cisheteropatriarchal construct, is continually boasting of how, when choosing which parts to play, she cares only about their internal character, not their petty external appearances: “One of the things I think reduces who we are as human beings are the value judgments that are placed on what I call this ‘fleshy’ overcoat, which is your genitalia and melanin. Not interested, don’t care.” She has a funny way of showing it.

Andoh made these comments whilst promoting a new 2019 version of Shakespeare’s Richard II she directed and starred in, whose entire cast consisted of “women of color”—i.e., people chosen to fill their assigned roles explicitly on account of their genitals and these organs’ associated melanin content. Not only actresses, but also the entire production’s designers, composers, publicists, etc., were all non-white females. Seemingly, this does not contravene British employment law (or if it does, nobody is non-subaltern enough to actually prosecute her for it).

Even though Richard II is a play of royal intrigue set in pre-Tudor times, Andoh perceived it was really about contemporary issues like Brexit, Donald Trump, immigration, and the fact that a large number of non-whiteys had not long since died in a tower-block blaze in London. Although the play was previously thought by literary scholars to be about white English aristocratic power blocs of old, Andoh knew otherwise, observing that both black and white people engaged in rites of ancestor worship, as if you “Go to Buckingham Palace, there will be portraits of Lord Blah of Blah, Blah and Lady Ding Ding of Dududa.” Could a white man honestly speak dismissively of “King Nig-Nog of Bongo-Bongo Land” and expect to escape with his head?

Andoh could. She is “bored of having to say…‘I’m a black woman and you won’t let me do that,’” but it appears she is allowed to do or say whatever she likes by an ever-indulgent theater land. It was marvelous “to be in a room with all these wonderful women” from her cast and collectively “weep” together, she said, “because there is not a woman who is not here [in Britain] because at some point somebody from this country went overseas, colonized, raped, killed, and pillaged some of our ancestors.”

Except you, evidently, because by your own admission your dad came over here seeking sanctuary after some black Ghanaians had threatened to persecute him in his own country after the evil white men had all upped sticks and left the place.

Still, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth…” and all that, eh?

Unstable Lies the Head Which Wears the Crown
Andoh genuinely doesn’t seem to see the contradictions in her own words, perhaps because it is now deemed impolite to point such things out to black people. “I am interested in you as a human being beyond your melanin and your genitalia,” Andoh has said, which sounds like the most autistic chat-up line ever used in Addis Ababa. The only reason she cast nobody but women with non-white vaginas in Richard II, therefore, was as “a thought experiment into the universality of humanity.”

By “giving everyone the same signifiers,” Andoh was essentially “saying we’ve all got the same signifiers, so there are no signifiers,” allowing her to just “tell the story.” But you could have achieved precisely the same effect simply by casting the play entirely with white people, as was traditional, no? Rather than revealing “the universality of humanity,” she does the reverse. If Shakespeare really does speak to all humanity, as is so often said, then why does Andoh seemingly think non-whites will be unable to relate to his words themselves unless they are all spoken by black people?

Also, I do note that Andoh has a paid sideline in providing voice-overs to books whose main on-the-page characters are all black females, like Half a Yellow Sun, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. If skin color is so unimportant, why do talking-book companies feel compelled to hire a black woman to say these things out loud, when by definition listeners at home can’t see who’s reading them? I think we all know the answer to that, and it has little to do with “the universality of humanity.”

A Grievance, a Grievance, My Kingdom for a Grievance!
“Determined to play a villain,” Andoh has also recently acted as Richard III, Shakespeare’s hunchbacked, child-murdering super-bastard, having self-identified with the role during childhood, when she was bullied for being black, much as Dick the Shit’s inner character was deformed by public disgust with his external bodily one during infancy in the play. Some identitarians may say this represents her stealing a role from a disabled actor, but Andoh disagrees: “I wanted to take the prism of what my [own] body’s othering has been, which is race.”

Far from universalizing Shakespeare, whenever she reads him, all Andoh seems to see in his characters are mirrors, slight variants of Caliban Andoh herself. And she wants her audience to see the Andoh in their own souls, too, namely by perceiving themselves as a perpetual victim also: “When people see [Richard III] I want them to reflect on those times when they felt they’ve been in spaces where they’ve been shunned, othered, or not given the space to just exist as a human being.”

One such space for me is the propagandistic public-subsidized theater these days, where I continually feel “othered” by seeing morally superior, left-wing black women usurp the rightful role of white English kings—so, congratulations, Adjoa, you have made me into a victim after all!

“What happens to a human being if all their life they’re told they’re evil and wrong?” Andoh asked of Richard III. Try asking a white person that these days. A more interesting question might be, what happens if, as is increasingly the case with black people, “all their life they’re told they’re wonderful and right”? The answer is, they start acting like Adjoa Andoh.

Being on Bridgerton, Andoh appears to genuinely believe the Afrocentrist lie that Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, was a black woman. Perhaps this was why she pointed at the Buckingham Palace balcony and deemed it to be so “terribly white”: Fact and fiction have by now become so confused within her nutshell of a mind that she expected to see herself up there waving at the crowds instead of King Charles.

After all, she’s used to being allowed to play whatever other white royal role she likes, isn’t she? The white European royal she most reminds me of is Marie Antoinette.


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